HTML Meta Description

One of the most common HTML Meta attributes is the description attribute. This allows you to give each of your web pages a fancy looking description. Really the only time you will find this to be of any use is when your site shows up in search engine results. If you do not set a description Meta attribute then the search engine results page (SERP) will show a snippet of text taken from the area of the page that the search engine considers to be the most relevant to the user's search. However, if you set a Meta description for the page, then many search engines will display this instead.

The Meta description attribute is used as follows (notice that you have to close the Meta tag by using a forward slash at the end):

<Meta name="description"
content="This is where you put the description of your web page.
Keep it brief and really sell your site! />

There are a couple of reasons for including a Meta description attribute in each of your pages. Firstly it means you can choose what text to display to search engine users when one of your pages is returned in their search results. This gives you the opportunity to effectively write a short "sales pitch" to try and draw more visitors to your site. Secondly, it helps search engines to index your web pages because they will look for keywords in your description text. This can help you to legitimately improve your search engine rankings.

A word of caution - the Meta description attribute is not for just filling with keywords in order to improve search rankings. It is for giving a concise, accurate description of what is on your web page, to aid users in choosing pages that will be of interest. Search engines are becoming very sophisticated and can spot this type of devious tactic a mile off, and this can seriously damage your search rankings, or even get your removed from the search indexes altogether.