- Don't confuse this with the wiki description used to promote your wiki around Fandom.
Each individual page on your wiki has a meta description — a statement in the head tags of your wiki's HTML — that is used by external tools like search engines to know what that page is about. On Fandom this is usually generated per-page using the first sentence or two of content. If this can not be generated for some reason, the contents of MediaWiki:Description will be used instead.
You can see the relationship between the description and the raw HTML of a page on your wiki by choosing to look at your page's source code. There, you'll see the page's description inside of the
<meta name="description"> tag.
What to say
The first few sentences of a page should be a basic description of what the page is about. This is known as a lede or introductory text. See User blog:FishTank/Articles on Fandom#Sections and Headings for more information on writing good ledes.
If you're an admin, you can edit MediaWiki:Description to set a fallback description, but you should aim to keep your description around 150 characters. Descriptions should include common search terms that casual fans might use when looking for your site on a search engine.
Changes aren't immediate
While page content and MediaWiki:Description can be changed instantly, search engines won't be so obliging. It can take days (or even months) for these changes to show in search engines. This is because commercial search engines use caching to deliver quick results to you — but that means you're always "looking into the past" when you search the internet. Updates don't occur until a search engine's code tells it when to "crawl" your wiki again, forcing an update to its image of your site.
Unfortunately, that means that the search engine update process is completely outside of Fandom's control.
Utility of descriptions
Once critical to Search Engine Optimization, descriptions have declined in importance due to unsavory tactics like keyword stuffing. The keywords and phrases used in the description are no longer factored into search algorithms, and the description may not even be displayed by the search engine. But if the description is used, then having informative descriptions can drive click through rate. In other words, they can help influence readers to actually click on a search result and come to your wiki.
- Help:Search Engine Optimization - More about optimizing your community for discovery on search engines
- Help:System messages - For editing MediaWiki namespace messages in general.