Search Engine Display Chart

This chart summarizes how major crawler-based search engines create descriptions that they display for web pages. This chart is as of Dec. 5, 2002.

Search Engine If Meta No Meta Second Description Other
AltaVista Meta Tag
+ Snippet
Snippet n/a Paid Custom Tagline can substitute for meta tag
(meta tag used for
second description)
Meta Tag
Meta Tag Snippet n/a If no meta tag, snippet used
Google Meta Tag
or Snippet
Snippet ODP Use of meta tag expanded in 11/02
or Snippet
or Meta Tag
n/a Meta Tag always used for paid inclusion URLs
Teoma Meta Tag
or Meta Tag + Snippet
Snippet n/a If no text, ODP description used, if appropriate
Wisenut Snippet
(meta tag not supported)
n/a n/a

For more in-depth coverage of how descriptions are made, please be sure to read the articles below:

Here are some further descriptions about the chart:

If Meta

The meta description tag is recognized by some search engines as a means for site owners to describe their web pages. See the How Meta Tags Work page for more information about the tag. This column describes whether the content of a meta tag is used for the page's main description or whether is combined with "snippet" content.

No Meta

Shows what happens if no meta tag is present. Usually, this means that a "snippet" description is created, where the crawler shows text from the web page that contains the search term.

Secondary Description

Both Google and AllTheWeb site will show a second description for some pages. This explains where the second description comes from.