The meta description tag has recently undergone somewhat of a revival, with search engines often showing this snippet of code as the accompanying description to your website in search engine results. After years in the SEO wilderness, the meta description tag is making a comeback. So what does this mean for your search engine marketing efforts?
The meta description tag is a block of text that goes inside the "head" section of your HTML code, and it is used to give a brief summary of a web page. Although the meta description tag cannot be seen on screen by human visitors, it can be read and accounted for by search engine robots. The description is one of many meta tags that can be used in the mark-up of a page, but only the description and meta keywords (a list of words and phrases that you associate with your website) used to have a bearing on search engine rankings.
The value of meta tags for search rankings was at its peak during the late 90s and early 00s. The words found within the description and keywords tags(amongst other factors) were used by formative search engines to help judge the importance of a website in comparison to the search query. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with most search engine optimisation techniques, flaws were exposed and some SEOs exploited the tags by"keyword stuffing" them or using terms with high traffic but no relevance to the page. As a result, and in contrast of online myth, the importance of the words within in meta tags was nullified.
The emergence of Google as a major competitor in the search engine wars in particular sounded the death knell for meta tags. Google placed more importance on actual page content and link popularity, and for a time was even the only search engine that didn't pay any attention to the keyword tag.
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