There are a lot of people arguing over meta tags and their influence on search engine optimization. Since no one knows exactly how search engines work, it seems logical that it would be important to do everything in your power to have the most success. Therefore, it is definitely in your power to add relevant titles, keywords and descriptions to all of your web pages. Our focus today is on meta description tags, because it is looking like now more than ever before, they will be playing a larger role in your search engine success.
A month or so ago we posted this article on Using Keywords To Create The Most Efficient Website Title, which outlined the importance of titles and how to write a good one. We will be getting to some tips on writing affective descriptions, but let’s first start with why they are so important.
Google is constantly changing how they measure websites and list them on search results for certain keywords. This is why it is so important to have a professional SEO company that knows the latest trends in the different search engines. What was important yesterday or a year ago might actually hurt your search results tomorrow or somewhere down the road.
We are seeing a strong difference in the importance of the meta description on your web pages compared to the past. For example, what Google and Yahoo used to use in place of your description on their search results was the description your website had on different open directory sites. Now, you can add the “NOODP” and “NoYdir” meta tags to your pages to prevent this.
This type of change by Google indicates that they are giving more control to the website owners in terms of what they want to display in the description on the Google search engine results page. Another difference is that Google used to always disregard the meta description and just use a snippet of information from the specific page that ended up on the search results. However, Google is now choosing to use the meta description in certain instances, when they feel like it is relevant to the search query. Watch this short video by Google’s Matt Cutts to hear how they are changing their philosophy on meta descriptions.
As you can see, it is important to have a description not only on your homepage, but to include a unique one on all of your website’s pages. If you don’t, Google will always just use a snippet of information that you can’t control. Like Matt Cutts said, Google isn’t always using the description, so in order to have the most control of the search result that is your first impression to thousands of people, you need to write the most relevant and helpful description possible.
Here is some basic information to get started on writing a quality meta description:
- Google will display a maximum of 160 characters, so keep the description down to 5-24 words to make sure a searcher can read the whole thing
- The description promotes your company—use appealing words that will attract people to click on your link
- Like we said earlier—write a different description for every page to make it relevant to the content on that page and better for search results
- Include the specific page’s keywords in the description to increase search results
Whether you believe the meta description on your website pages will affect how close you end up to the number one position on Google or other search engines or you don’t, you definitely need to realize that SEO isn’t just about making the robots happy. Enticing the people that search for your product or service is the most important part of SEO, so remember to write descriptions that people will want to learn more about.