How important are Meta Descriptions to SEO?

Mar 23, 2013 by

Meta Descriptions need to get Smarter

 

How do you use Meta Descriptions?  

Here’s a good question from Joe, one of my coaching clients.

“Richard, I have a question on meta tags. When we are setting up our products in the back office of our online shop it has built in fields for meta tags meta description etc. Do I need to use lots of keywords in the meta description for good SEO?  If so, do I need to repeat the words that are common to different phrases?”

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are most important for getting click through on the Search Engine Results Page (aka SERP),  rather than for SEO power.  Meta descriptions have value in SEO as Google looks for relevance of the page, but it’s only one of many factors.

Try to start meta descriptions with your most important keyword, and use the key word again in the meta description. BUT don’t focus on including too many keywords in the meta description.  That is keyword ‘stuffing’, and creates a bad experience for users.

Meta Descriptions need to be Magnetic

Think of the meta description as being your opportunity to write great advertising copy about the page. It needs to be great copy, but brief.  You’ve got about 150-160 characters to work with in meta descriptions. You need to make your meta descriptions relevant, trust-building, credible AND super magnetic!

Your meta description advertising copy needs to attract and entice individuals to your site.  Individuals want relevance and value, and they want it fast.

Ideally you want to attract your ideal customers and have them feel right at home if and when they visit the page  on your site.   Each person has just searched on some keywords and if your page has appeared in the SERP, then the person needs to know your site will quickly give them what they are looking for.  That’s what the meta-description needs to offer them.  That’s the power of good meta descriptions.

Your primary challenge at this point is to get individuals to click on your listing in the SERP, rather than click on someone else’s listing.  And you don’t have long to attract them as they scan through the SERP.  Meta descriptions are critical for this.

Meta Descriptions Tutorial

There’s a good tutorial on meta descriptions over on seomoz.org.  Check it out at http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/meta-description

Here’s a snippet from it.

“Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from search engine result pages (SERPs). These short paragraphs are webmasters opportunity to advertise content to searchers and let them know exactly what the given page has with regard to what they’re looking for.

The meta description should employ the keywords intelligently, but also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. Direct relevance to the page and uniqueness between each page’s meta description is key. The description should optimally be between 150-160 characters.”

Meta Descriptions and Other SEO Factors

You may also like the SEO Periodic Table I wrote about here for more help on meta descriptions and other important SEO factors.

 

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