Why We Should Still Be Using the Meta Description Tag
Most of us know that the major search engines pretty much ignore what’s in the meta description tag when it comes to ranking your site but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it completely. It now serves a very important – albeit slightly different – purpose.
Back in the day, meta tags were used to help the search engines work out what your website was about and rank your site based on how relevant it thought it was top the search being performed.
These days it is much less of a ranking factor, but is instead used to describe what your website is about within the search results, as seen below:
Although it doesn’t have an effect on your rankings within the search results, you should still put some time and effort into creating a good description that grabs interest.
Use it to attract visitors that may otherwise skip over your positions within the search results, particularly if you aren’t quite at positions #1. I don’t mean fill it with crazy characters, but make it salesy. Grab attention and pull people onto your site.
Think about what makes you unique. If you are cheap then includes prices. If you are the only supplier, make sure you include that along with what you do and what you offer. If potential visitors aren’t sure what you do after reading your snippet of text within the search results then they aren’t as likely to click onto your site and not only are potential sales lost, but the hard work that’s going into your SEO campaign is being wasted.
If Google finds that your meta description tag doesn’t describe your site accurately or informatively it will choose to pull search snippets from elsewhere, including the content on the page and external sites such as the DMOZ and Yahoo directories if they fit the bill better.
- Keep your meta description tag to less than 150 characters. 100-150 is a good guideline.
- Make it precise but informative
- Grab attention with your description while getting across important details in a few words as possible.
- Include keywords. Although they don’t affect your rankings the keywords you search for are highlighted within the search results, helping your listing to stand out and spear relevant to the users search.