The importance of the meta description tag
The meta description tag tends to get overlooked far too much. It’s one of those SEO things that usually gets left to the last minute. Easy to do, just a description of what the site/page is about, no problem. Or is it? I personally think that this tag is of far greater importance than most SEO gives it credit for. Why? Read on.
Basically if you think about it the meta description tag is your FREE ad! If you have experience in running a pay per click campaign I’m sure you have put a lot of thought into what the PPC ad says. The ad is what distinguish you from all the other PPC ads right? So why should it be any different in the organic SERPs? The title tag is your free headline and the meta description tag is your FREE ad, this is where you have a chance to ad hook someone in. How many times have you searched for something, got to the results and been put off by the description, it can’t possibly be what you were looking for!!?
Now, this isn’t the only reason why a meta description tag is important! I’m a firm believer that most search engines (especially Google) use CTR as part of their algorithm. Let’s say you can have optimised your website perfectly for your top keywords, you get to the top of Google and then…FALL. Why? Because your meta description tag wasn’t descriptive or interesting enough to make the user actually click through to your site from the organic result. Now, if you on the other hand had a relevant, descriptive and interesting meta description tag the user would be more likely to click through to your site. If it were to work as it does with PPC (I’m not saying it definitely does, but I think it does) the higher CTR (click through rate) you have the more you get “rewarded” by Google. The more targeted my PPC ads are to the relevant keywords the higher the CTR gets and I get a higher position for less CPC. That’s my theory anyway.
So to sum it up, I believe by writing a good meta description and title tag, you get a higher CTR, more click throughs, thus more traffic. Bob's your uncle…
The two Golden rules for writing a successful meta description tag:
- Keep it short. It will only look crap if your description tag gets cut off half way through a sentence. A good length meta description tag is under 150 characters.
- Keep it relevant. Don’t get too carried away with the ad hook, keep it clear, simple and most important relevant to the page. (I recommend you write a different meta description tag for each page on your site, to maximise CTR)