Here is another quick SEO101 lesson on the usage of meta description tag for on page optimisations. I have mentioned that I would make a post on meta description in my previous post on useless meta keywords, so this is basically a follow up on that. Much like page titles, meta description actually plays a big part on SERPs and works as your marketing ad copy to your potential visitor.
Meta Description tags are the tags which resides in the <head> section of your html encoding. It allows webmasters to describe a page in one or two sentences so that search engines and users can understand what the website is about in a simple abstract. Over the years due to the evolution of search engines, the meta description tag has been some what altered and different search engines treat this tag very differently.
Currently, the two most used Search engines are Yahoo and Google where Google takes up approximately 70% market share. Due to the large amount of searches on Google and incredible market dominance, I will base my following instructions on how Google treats meta descriptions.
Meta Descriptions are used as the description which gets displayed via the search results on Google. Much like Page titles, they actually influence your ranking on search results. Depending on the keyword and phrases used, you may rank a few position higher or lower.
Demonstration of Google SERPs.
Knowing this gives you a couple of options and methods to entice users to click on your link. Some things you may think about may include:
- How can I use this to drive traffic to my website?
- What keywords should I use so that Google can bold them when it gets searched?
- What are my competitor’s writing to entice clicks to their website?
- How can I ultilise the meta description to give just enough information to potential visitors to know what my website is about ?
All the above questions are valid and are useful to put you ahead of your competition. However, how you answer them and how you apply them to your website could make or break you. Hence I have devised up a meta description blueprint on how to write a effective meta description to drive traffic to your website.
Keywords and phrases
First things first, search engines need to understand your website via keywords and phrases. This helps them categorize your pages into their never ending index of relevancy. So you need to make sure that your meta description contains some keywords which effectively helps search engines relate to your page. That being said, the keywords which gets searched for gets bolded on the SERPs, so if these keywords appear in your meta description as well as your page title, you will get added exposure.
Writing an good marketing copy
Having your description appear on the SERPs is much like having your advertisement appear on a news paper, the need to get the point across to the potential visitor as well as making them take a action is what your main goal is. If you are able to write something to entice them to take an action by clicking on your link, then you have succeed in writing a good copy for your meta description.
Using your competitor’s meta description
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do not mean that you should “steal” their description, but rather emulate what they have done. This is assuming that they are getting more traffic than you and you believe that their description is better than yours. Take the best of their description and implement it to yours so that users are more prone to click on your website.
Take the adwords description of others
You will notice that nearly everything you search yields some sort of advertising from businesses using Google Adwords. Take note of how they have written their ad copy as their main goal is conversion, and as they pay for that position the stakes for them to create a better ad copy is a lot higher.
Word of warning
Google only displays 160 characters of your meta description, anything over that will be inevitably cut short, so make sure that you fit as much goodies within these 160 characters. Yahoo on the other hand allows up to 165 characters but they may ignore your meta description and take their stored DMOZ description instead (due to the supposed trust worthiness of DMOZ over their trust for you). *update: they don’t take the DMOZ description, they take their own Yahoo Directory description. To stop that from happening, you will need to place the following meta data on your pages.
<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp,noydir” />
The above meta data tells Yahoo to ignore the website’s directory listing description on both DMOZ and Yahoo Directoy and display the website’s own meta description on SERPs instead.
Also, never use a misleading description to describe the page, although this make get you a few clicks, the chances of them leaving your website with a negative feeling is extremely high. You may even leave them a lasting negative image of your web domain and even your brand. Think long term sustainable internet marketing, it make not get you an explosion of traffic, however it will give you a continual steady amount of traffic.