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Monday, October 01, 2007

Meta Description Tag Tips from Google

In DIY SEO, I recommended structuring content for search engines as well as people and to:
  • Create unique html titles for each page
  • Create a sitemap that links to all pages on the site
  • Create unique meta description tags for each page
  • Make sure html title and meta description reflect content in body of page
  • Don't waste time with meta keywords
Now, on an official Google blog, Google explains the importance of the meta description tag:
We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL's content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don't achieve this goal and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular, non-meta description, snippet. And it's worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't affect your ranking within search results.
Read that last sentence again. Yes, the meta description tag is important. However, meta descriptions are not relevant for ranking purposes. Meta descriptions are a way to make your Google listings more readable for people. So, use them but don't expect them to help you rank better.

Sometimes, it's worth looking at how your competitors are using the meta description tag. You can do so by using my firm's free keyword research tool. It extracts the meta keywords and meta description tags from a web page. For example, here's what the meta tags tool displays for the home page of a client (whose products are quite delicious I might add), Maine Munchies:

meta description meta keywords tool

See how Google uses that meta description tag when displaying search results:

meta description tag on Google

Note that if you are content with the snippet Google displays for a given web page, you don't need a meta description tag for that page.

Related Posts:
Google Killed the SEO Star
Free Keyword Tool Update and the UPS Whiteboard

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Blogger mgwalks said...

I have a few tips for meta tags here

Fri Mar 28, 05:02:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous SEO Tips said...

Agree that Meta Description is important, better if in the meta description input some of keywords.


Sun Apr 27, 09:15:00 AM EDT  

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