How to Use Meta Tags for SEO


Meta Description

The meta description tag of a web page is often used by search engines as the text snippet on the search engine results pages, like this:

Meta description text snippet in Google search results

Tips for meta description:

  • The meta description should be different on every page of the site.
  • The meta description is often used as the text snippet on the search engine results pages.
  • Write one or two descriptive sentences that will attract search engine visitors to click on your link. Tastefully include a few main keywords in your sentences, because they will appear in bold if they were part of the search engine query.
  • Consider that the meta description will generally be cut off by Google at somewhere between 135 to 150 characters, depending on the length of the words.
  • Don't overdo it.

As mentioned below, Yahoo may pay more attention to meta description than the other engines.

Meta Keywords

Do search engines read meta keywords? Yahoo does. Apparently Yahoo doesn't use them for ranking purposes, but only to determine whether a page should show up for a certain query. ran a test that seems to indicate that Yahoo does pay attention to meta keywords and meta description.

I don't believe that meta keywords are given much weight. I think that a different combination of meta keywords should be included on each page, but no more than 10 or 15 words. I don't think that meta keywords are worth spending much time on. The important meta tag is the meta description because it is a chance to put your custom text on the search engine results pages.

Update December 23, 2006

The Yahoo meta keywords experiment was replicated here. Today, the only result for the nonsense word in the meta keywords is this page:

Yahoo reads meta keywords

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