Different search engines use meta data in different ways. While it’s well accepted that unique, keyword-rich and well written title tags are an absolute must for your search engine optimization efforts, some SEO experts have discounted the value of meta description and meta keyword tags in the past.
Vanessa Fox, product manager for the Google webmaster tools, has confirmed that unique meta description tags for each web page help Google determine the uniqueness of a web page. The meta description tags are used to create the text snippets that are displayed in Google search results underneath the page heading.
Google would normally create this snippet by looking at the content surrounding the query term on the web page. However, for more generic searches, where appropriate content is not found on the web page, Google will simply grab some text from the top of a page, which is often part of the site navigation, and highly unsuitable to be displayed as text snippets for a search result.
Here is what Vanessa posted on Google Groups: “Looking at your site in the search results, it appears that your pages would be well served by meta description tags. For most queries, the generated snippet is based on where the query terms are found on the page, and in those cases, your results are fine. But for some more generic queries, where a logical snippet isn’t found in the text, the generated snippet seems to be coming from the first bits of text from the page – in this case, boilerplate navigation that is the same for every page.”
If there are unique meta description tags available, Google will use these instead as a text snippet. So keep the following rules in mind for all your web pages:
- Make sure every single page has a unique, meaningful and keyword-rich meta description tag (and of course a meta title and keyword tag too)
- The description tag might be one of the first things your potential customers see. When you write the description tag, write it in a way that gives the searcher a good idea of what he or she will find on your page, and makes the searcher want to click through to your web page.
- Review your meta description tags regularly – as a minimum, whenever you change the content of you web page.
Not sure how to write good meta tags? The ineedhits optimization packages Optimizer Kit PLUS and Business Essentials both include detailed keyword research and professional optimization of your title, description and keyword meta tags.