Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.
This week a workshop participant wanted to know if there we any value in actually adding the description attribute to his web content.
Meta data, or tags as they are often called, are bits of information about a web page that search engines use to start to understand what the page is all about. These attributes are mostly under the hood but send important signals to search engines.
Due to that fact there’s always lots of misinformation from people trying to game the system from every angle possible. Search engines, most notably Google, don’t use the Description information to rank a page, but it’s still a vitally important element and should be included on every blog post and page.
Here’s why the META Description field is so important.
While search engines may not pay attention to the content for the purpose of showing a page based on search inquiries they all show some sort of description in the search results. The question is what description do that use?
Since they are going to show something as a matter of fact, why not help inform what they show. If you leave the description attribute blank they will pick up something based on the search term used. If, however, you get in the habit of crafting well-written descriptions, there’s a very good chance they will use your description.
Think of the description as an ad for the click
If your page shows up in a search result a well-written description will increase your chances of someone clicking through to read the rest. Think about it, you read those descriptions when you search, and so do your prospects.
Some tips on writing useful descriptions
- Write for readers not search engines. Use important keyword phrases but don’t stuff them. When someone searches and uses a keyword in your description the term will be bold, so get some in there, but don’t be silly about it.
- You only have 150 characters and if you go over the rest will cut off abruptly.
- The best way to handle adding and optimizing descriptions for WordPress blogs is to use the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast. You’ll have title, keyword and description fields added to your post page and a counter to tell you when you’ve gone on too long.