The meta description is found in the <head> section of the HTML document that the browser uses to create your web page. It will look something like this:

 <meta content="Joomla makes it easy to add a unique meta description to every page on your site. The meta description is found in the head section of your web page. name="description">

The purpose of the meta description is to provide a brief summary of the contents of this particular web page. Some web developers will debate whether it is important to have a meta description on your web pages. Some will say that the search engines will likely display excerpts from the content of your page that is relevant to the words in the search phrase, so why bother adding a meta description.

Search engines no longer use this meta information to index your site due to so many sites abusing it by stuffing keywords or writing deceptive descriptions to get more traffic to their site. On the other hand, search engines may display the meta description in a listing of the pages on your site.

Other sites, other than search engines, may use this meta description for links to this web page.

How to add meta descriptions in Joomla

In Joomla there are different places to add a meta description to your site's web pages.

Global Configuration

You can add a meta description to the Global Configuration for the entire site. This meta description will be added to each page that does not have a meta description from another source like from the Menu Item or Article. this site wide meta description is located in the Site tab in the Metadata Settings section.

Google does not recommend adding the same meta description for multiple pages on your web site. In fact, it may be better for SEO to leave the Global Configuration Meta Description area empty.

Menu Item

Each Menu Item created for your Joomla web site has a Metadata tab. You can add a unique meta description for the page created by the Menu Item in the Meta Description text box in this tab. This will supercede a meta description added at the Article level if the Menu Item is a Single Article type.

Article Manager: Edit Article

When you create or edit an Article in Article Manager, you can add a meta description for this particular article under the Publishing tab. If the article is part of a Category Blog or Category List, this meta description will be used when the article is viewed by itself.

Category Manager: Edit An Articles Category

You can add a meta description for the Category in the Publishing tab. This will show as the meta description for a Category Blog or Category List page if there is no meta description added at the Menu Item level.

Other areas to add meta descriptions in Joomla

There are other components that will allow meta descriptions to be added. One example would be the Contacts component. 3rd Party Extensions may also have a place to add a meta description.

Why isn't the search engine listing displaying the meta description that you added to the page?

The search engine results will display contents from your page that matches the words that the visitor typed in for the search. If your meta description contains these words, the results may use your meta description. If the meta description does not contain the search words, the search engine will pull content from within the page that does match.