Meta description tags were once all the discussion about search engine optimization. However, the search engines soon discovered how people were manipulating the system, and made much less use of metatags in general. However, while the importance of metatags may not be what it once was, in recent years the meta description tags have become much more important for different reasons.
While meta description tags may not be used to determine your ranking, they are used to list your site with the search engines. In fact, this tag and the title tag, combined with the web address or URL of your site, comprise the entire listing of your site on search engine pages like Yahoo and MSN. While search engine optimization may be enough to get your website a high ranking and placed prominently on the search page, it will not guarantee that people click on your link rather than your competitor.
This is what makes the title and meta description tags so important. You need to convince people who see your website to click on your link. This requires well written, interesting, and informative titles and descriptions. You must also keep in mind length requirements; basically, you can only have about two sentences in your description.
Given these guidelines, writing effective meta description tags may seem like the impossible task. While it is not impossible, it is definitely not easy to do in all cases. However, improving meta description tags does not have to be painful, if you know the best process of doing so.
Before you start writing your meta description tags, you need to know a few things about how the search engines use your tags. Yahoo will use your title as the link, and the first ten to fifteen words of your description. MSN will use your title as the link and the first twenty to thirty words of your description. Google will use your title as the link, but tends to be unpredictable in their use, or lack thereof, of your description metatag.
Given this information, it is clear that you should write two sentences, about ten to fifteen words each, to make up your meta description tag. The first sentence will be the only one seen by Yahoo surfers, so this should be a well worded description of exactly what your website is. The second sentence, seen by MSN users, should back up the first sentence and convince surfers to click on your link rather than that of your competitor.
Although the search engines are not likely to put too much stock in your metatags for ranking, it is still important to use basic SEO techniques when writing your two sentence description of your website. Use keywords and phrases that are related to the products, services, or information available on your website. You should also include industry specific phrases and your location if you only deal locally.
Do not get too caught up in your keywords for this project, however. The main purpose of your meta description tag is going to be to convince people to click on your website. The best way to do this is to keep your description brief but interesting, as well as informative. The first sentence should be largely informative while still being eye catching. The second sentence of your meta description tags should give the surfer a viable reason to click on your link.