In 2010 I wrote a blog post about meta tags in general, but I want to focus today on the meta description tag because it is so important. It is frequently the difference between someone clicking on your search result or choosing another result. Here’s how Google uses the meta tag information.
If you’re meta description tag is relevant to the contents of the web page, Google will use the meta description for the search results description. If it’s not relevant to the page contents or a meta description tag doesn’t exist, Google will grab a snippet of code from the page to use for the search results description.
So your meta description is your sales pitch; it similar to your ad text in pay-per-click ads. To obtain the best click-through rate on your search result, the meta tag needs to be relevant to the page contents and should be benefit-oriented.
Here’s an example of a search result for “Irving TX real estate” with a good meta description. The description gives you a reason to click:
And here’s an example where there is no meta description and Google pulled random copy from the web page. There’s not here to motivate you to click on this result:
Your search engine optimization work does not end with a good Google ranking. If you don’t give people a good reason to click on your result, your Google ranking may be wasted.