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Meta Description Tags – Billboarding Your Site on SERPS

19 April 2012 BY

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So you are now ranking where you want to be, but you simply are not seeing the results that your research tells you to expect. It could be that you suffer from having weak meta description tags. Don’t listen to the “experts” that say it doesn’t matter – let’s billboard your page!

A lot of search marketers now believe that the meta description is meaningless. They say that since because it is not a part of the algorithm in determining rankings that they will shift their focus from it. I ask why, they give reasons, and we both end up feeling unfulfilled from that conversation. So during my drive from Michigan to Florida, I got some motivation for this months article.

So what did I do when I got home (and got internet)? I did a few searches to get a pretty general lay of the land with what kind of meta descriptions the people who ARE writing them are actually using.

Boring. Blasé. Uninspired. I know that companies take little time with things that are not known to have any kind of search value, but search isn’t just about search. The meta description is your window to the search world – don’t mess it up! Let’s break down what exactly a description will be used for. First, as previously stated – it is not part of the algo. Not to say it won’t (again) be part of it in the future, so don’t run and delete your descriptions (and also, keywords). Your meta description may be used by the search engines to serve a snippet under the title tag of your page on search. What you want is something that both engages the searcher and immediately makes them want more. You want them to visit your page, not merely look at your site on the serp, ranked in a position that you are very proud of, and simply dismiss you thinking that you have nothing of value for them.

When I write a meta description, I start with the content, I look at it in terms of what the content is trying to do/sell.  From there, I write a synopsis, really short and to the point, 200 characters max. There may be a few drafts – I know what a good title/description combo can do and how it can increase conversions, so I wait a few days. After 2-3 days, I go back to the description, and look at my target SERP. For this article, I want to rank well for the phrase [meta description], so I look at the SERP to see what the landscape is in terms of a meta description.

Looking at the page, I don’t see anything that really describes content – sure it describes the description tag in and of itself, but what separates the page. There are no real call to actions on my SERP, just general information.

A good description tag inspires and engages the reader, it is your virtual billboard text that is designed to get people to pull over on this information highway.  You want it to relate to the page, but you want it to polarize your audience, you want them to move from searcher to customer. You do not want to use part of your content as the description – hell, you shouldn’t even mirror what you say in the content, you want to say how your content helps the searcher in a unique way that will make them want to read your content.

Give it a test for a few weeks, take a page with a low conversion rate and see what you can do to help the searcher turn into customer.

AUTHORED BY:

Bryant Dunivan has been doing search marketing since 1999, he specializes in on-page optimization, social media, and seo copywriting. Bryant is now doing freelance SEO, Consultation, and Site Audits.
  • http://www.lexolutionit.com/ Lexolution IT Services, India

    Agreed right away! Meta Description tags may not improve the rankings of a
    website but they do matter a lot! A well written Meta Description tag for your
    website can appeal to the visitor directly to take a tour of your website and
    also it enables improvement in the Click Through Rate for the search
    listing of your website. 

    • Bryant Dunivan

      Exactly!

      It is imperative to get a searcher to focus on YOUR site over the others, sometimes a meta description that grabs them rather then just re-iterates the content of the page could be the edge you need.

      Thanks for reading

  • http://twitter.com/Roaldcraenen Roald Craenen

    Great article Bryan. I agree the meta description is underestimated far too often. Too bad your nicely written meta description for this post isn’t showing properly in the SERPs. Perhaps you (or Bas) need to take a look at it (the source code for this page is showing two different descriptions).

    • http://www.facebook.com/basvandenbeld Bas Van Den Beld

      Hm, there might be more reasons for that, will look into it, thanks Roald!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    The meta description is like your ad or sales pitch for the page of content.  People will read it before deciding that your page suits their needs the best.  Include keywords, because they will show up bolded and stick out to the searcher and prove that your page is relevant to what they are looking for.  

  • Pingback: Blog Posts to Read for May 3, 2012

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