Meta Description Tags – Billboarding Your Site on SERPS
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 5 seconds
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.