What is a page description, you ask? Let us answer that question with a simple example, below. (Please excuse the shockingly bad mouse handwriting!)
Yes, we’ve all seen thousands of page descriptions in our time. As the name suggests, the page description simply describes what the searcher should expect to see if they click through to that web site. Technically this section of the search results page is called the “page snippet”. And there’s not a lot of room to work with either — just a sentence or two to get the point across.
But where do page descriptions come from? There are actually a few answers to that question, depending on the website and the search term. Some websites specify exactly what the page description should be by using an html tag in the header. Other websites automatically generate page descriptions, usually (and often unhelpfully) taking the first few sentences of text on the page. But whether you specify the tags or not, Google often ignores your request and serves up what Google thinks is the most relevant section of that page (usually the section that best matches the keywords used in the search).
Since Google will override your page description if it is not a good description of what is on the page, it pays to spend some time crafting a compelling, relevant, and succinct page description that Google will gladly serve up. This will also have the added benefit of increasing your click-through rate, since you can include keyword-rich text and a call-to-action.
And do page descriptions matter for search engine optimization (SEO)? This is an easy one: No. The page title matters for sure, but the page description does not. Google announced way back in 2009 that page descriptions do not factor into Google’s search ranking algorithms for web search. But as mentioned above, a well-crafted page description will be happily served by Google and readily clicked on by searchers, which is internet marketing at its finest.
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