My last blog was on the importance of Titles. This one deals with Title tags’ little brother, Meta-descriptions. First and foremost, Meta-descriptions need to be unique. Matt Cutts from Google said that web pages were better to have no Meta-description at all than to have duplicate Meta-descriptions on several pages. Many folks, apparently, took that as a sign that Meta-descriptions were not worth a lot of effort. That is not the case. Case in point for a large national educational institution we have the privilege of working with.. At our request, they made some changes to Meta-descriptions and also some Titles.
In this case, the changes in Meta-descriptions were much larger, both in the sense of being search engine friendly and user friendly. We do not have any data on how this has improved organic click through rates. However, in one week, these changes pushed a half dozen keywords from pages two and three to page one, including a very competitive keyword with more than 15,000 monthly searches. The Meta-description is important to SEO from a technical, keyword-centric perspective, so it is vital to include the keyword(s) in the descriptions, preferably near the beginning. Meta-descriptions should be completely unique, and 130 to 160 words long. The Meta-descriptions are also important from a user experience perspective, since it is often what Google displays in the SERP results. The messaging should solicit the click and encourage clicks to the site. One emerging theory is that including the phone number in the Meta-description actually boosts credibility and click through rates. It might be worth limited testing on some pages of your site. Check your Meta-descriptions to improve your site for both the search engine and the potential client.
Written By: Derrick DeYarman – Director of SEO