…but the description tag is still a powerful force to drive in traffic from the search results page
Google’s ongoing algorithm updates, especially Penguin and Panda, which affected a large number of websites, seems to have left a lot of people thinking the traditional SEO techniques such as editing and updating meta tags, have become largely irrelevant, and therefore not worth spending any time over.
Far from true
In my view this is far from true. I agree that Google not longer takes account of the meta keyword tag, but the title and description tag are still worth investing time in, to individually edit them for each page on your website.
Why? For the simple reason that when the title and description tag have been edited well, Google may use them on the search results page as the link people click on to go to your page, and the description they read to decided whether to visitor your page or click on one of your competitors links.
If you don’t take the time to edit them, Google will just pick snippets
If you don’t go to the trouble of editing these tags, Google will simply pick snippets of text from the page and use those instead, and these are unlikely to be as convincing as the words you compose yourself.
Here’s an example of why it works
As an example of this, I did a simple search for ‘office stationery’ in Google. Of the top 5 results, in which all of the meta descriptions had been completed so Google had the option to use it or not, Google had chosen to use the meta description as completed, rather than pick snippets from the text of the page. Obviously this gives these companies the most control over the words that are appearing on Google results page.
How to write an effective meta description tag?
Given that the meta description tag is still important, the obvious question to ask is: what’s the best way to write it? Below I’ve outlined a simple formula I use.
[s2If current_user_is(subscriber)][/s2If] [s2If !is_user_logged_in()][/s2If] [s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]
First thing to note is you only have around 155 characters, that’s around 20 words. So you’ve got to be quite focused on getting the message across. The main points to consider are:
- An outline or summary of what the page is about
- A reason to read the content or the benefit from reading it
- A short call to action of why you need to read it
Obviously it takes time and practice to perfect this, so to give you a few ideas I’ve included a few example below from ReallySimpleSEO:
More help in my 30 Day SEO Challenge
[/s2If] [s2If !current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)][/s2If]