November 16, 2011
To go along with this week's article on Meta descriptions, I asked my social media followers:
++What's your formula for writing Meta description tags?++
Here's how they responded:
elexis_h: I base my Meta descriptions on the information presented on the page and what we'd like a reader to do with that information.
Steven Musumeche: We use the Meta description tag as a place for marketing with the keywords used naturally.
Yuri Yeleyko: Average between what search engines want to see and what I want to say.
Andrew Shotland: On large sites with a lot of UGC content, I love not using Meta descriptions and letting the bots figure it out. I rarely see dynamic Meta descriptions that are truly compelling. One of my favorite types of dynamic Meta description is to use the data you have to make them interesting. For example, if you have a bunch of coupons for a product, you could add them together and the Meta description can say something like "Today you can save an average of $10 on X, updated daily."
Scott Burns: Not to write like a robot and to think of the tag as a billboard for the page. Keep it short, sweet (interesting sounding), and to the point (on topic) without overusing keywords.
Ammon Johns: I like to use descriptions to help prevent time wasting. Mention what you do not offer, or any limitations on the offer, as this reduces negative experiences, and the refreshing honesty in customer service can seriously differentiate your listing in a good way.
Fred Joly: Two short (10 to 12 words max) descriptive, well-written sentences with at least one instance of a web page's keyphrase.
Jean MacDonald: I always keep in mind that this may be what the searcher sees as the text in the search results. I do use one or two keyword phrases so that the description is likely to appear when someone searches on the phrase. But I don't overdo it and make the description less human-friendly.
Jerry Bergquist: I like to think of the Meta description tag as our 160-character sales pitch to get the searcher intrigued on my brand.
Eric Jacobson: I do the following, in order of most important to least important: Make it readable to a human! Primary Targeted Keyword in the first 5 words, exact usage whenever possible. Summarize the page content's exact offerings. 160-180 Character limit. Up to 3 keywords, if doing so retains the "readability" aspect.
David Spanierman: I like to think of it as the window of opportunity to show the user (searcher) the page content. Description should sum up what is on the page. Let the search engine match the user query to solid content. The better the algorithm, the better the results.
Mark Garner: I view meta descriptions as the teaser, compelling value proposition or whatever you want to call it. In short this is a perfect opportunity for your copywriter to show how good they are and craft a short message that any of your desired prospects will find irresistible. So, I'm mot writing it for SEO, I writing it to drive conversion or at least a click.
Peter Watson: My description is written from a marketing point of view. My goal is to entice the reader to click through. Stuffing with keywords does not help.
Melt du Plooy: I write for the user to make it useful and compelling when it is seen in the SERP. Considerations: What am I "selling" on any particular page? How best do I describe what is on any particular page?
Kevin Gallagher: Must contain a call to action or a previously well performing PPC ad if you have one.
Jill's Response: I see people are getting smart and have realized they have more room to say what they want to say over at Google+ as opposed to Twitter! Please note that I have summarized some of the Google+ responses that were longer than space would allow to be published here. You can read the entire thread and the longer answers here.
My advice for Meta description tags varies depending on the content. For top-level category pages and product- and service-level pages, the tags should typically be a few sentences that include your important keyword phrases while also being a compelling marketing statement. For articles or blog posts, I don't worry about keywords and just make sure they are a great sentence or two that will entice people to click through to the article.
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