1. The Meta Description is the most important Meta Tag in search engine optimisation (SEO).
Keywords (search terms) in the Meta Description Tag have no direct effect on positioning on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the Tag contents are not included in search engine ranking algorithms. Although the page Title Tag is more important than the Meta Description, it is not strictly speaking a Meta Tag.
So how can the Meta Description be so important? The contents of this Tag are usually included in the snippet that describes a page on the SERPs. A well-written Meta Description will increase the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) of your organic search listing.
2. It is the second step in SEO and a lure to your link bait.
There are three steps in SEO.
Firstly, drive the webpages as high up the SERPs as possible.
Secondly, encourage searchers to click on the SERP link.
Finally, captivate potential visitors so that they accept a call to action.
The Title Tags and Meta Description Tags are the two sections of text people can read on a results page to decide if they will click on a listed webpage. They provide webmasters opportunity to advertise content to searchers and let them know what their page has to offer to answer their search query. It is the one chance to tell your prospective visitor and client that your site is what they are looking for. You need to produce compelling ad copy that will make your link irresistible.
Link bait has become a buzz topic in SEO. The concept behind link bait is that your webpage has information worthy of a link from other websites. Webpage positioning on search engine results pages is primarily dependent on the total value of incoming links to the webpage’s HomePage (HomePage PageRank). If your page description has good copy it will encourage others to visit your webpage and potentially create a link to it. Thus a good Meta Description becomes bait on search engine results pages leading to the link bait on your webpages.
You have total control of the Meta description on your own webpages. If your targeted keywords are not included in the Tag, the search engines will pick a sentence in the text with the keyword almost at random and this may not result in a desirable snippet.
Many optimisers spend a great deal of time writing articles for directories. These indicate authority. The article pages on directories will only send back precious link juice to their website if the article page accumulates incoming links. Article directories usually include the first sentence or two from the article summary in their page Meta Description. Accordingly, article writers should give particular attention to their article summary.
3. Meta Description Tag technical issues.
Meta Tags provide information about the contents on a webpage for the search engines alone. The Meta Description Tag is placed in the header section of the page coding.
The Description Tag must be a true reflection of the content of your page. If those that click through to your page spend time on it then the search engines will record it as a positive user signals that will improve positioning. It would be counter-productive to increase CTR if high bounce rate or minimal time on site result in bad user signals to the search engines.
In contrast to the Title Tag, Meta Descriptions should be formatted in complete sentences so they read easily.
There is always benefit in a little espionage in SEO. The Meta Description for the Google.com page is placed within open and closed angled brackets as: meta name=”description” content=”Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.”
The search engines limit space for the description Tag with Google indexing a maximum of 160 characters. Keep the Tag contents to under 160 so that your description is not truncated. As with every aspect of your webpages, be prepared to make changes so that the website gradually improves over time.
In the early days, search engines relied heavily on the Meta Tags to determine positioning. Search engine optimisers have always tried to find the top factors in the positioning algorithms and optimise accordingly. Optimisers learned how to manipulate the content of these Meta Tags. As a consequence, most search engines today pay little or no attention to these Tags, and rely instead on the actual content of a website and anchor text in its links to determine relevancy for search engine positioning. Google completely ignores the contents of the “Keywords” Meta Tag.
The Panda updates to the Google positioning algorithm monitors user signals including Click-Through-Rate. If searchers click a link on a SERP more frequently than would be expected this will tend to move the link up and the opposite is also true. It is therefore important that you have a good snippet to encourage searchers to click on the link to your webpage. The content and presentation of your webpages should be pristine so that additional positive user signals about your webpage and website will be fed back to the search engines.