The majority of search engines give weight to the description tag and some even use it as the description for your site in the search engine result. It’s a shame that I can’t just say – “Look at our description meta tag as an example” as any type of optimization we do on this site is copied and pasted by our competitors onto theirs. The description meta tag for this is very lame and very watery so it’s lucky these pages aren’t aimed at search engines.
So, how to write a clear, attractive, fully search engine friendly and high ranking description meta tag. A few simple rules to get out the way first:
1. Don’t repeat the content of your title meta tag in the description meta tag. Think of it from a search listings point of view, it looks tacky and unimaginative if your listing looks like this:
This blatant repetition will be counted in the over-optimization filters now rampant with the major algorithms. It basically shows that you couldn't be bothered providing unique content which is an indication of the rest of your site. Rememeber, the algorithms themselves are mathmatical, but the programming is done by humans that make human judgements and turn them into mathmatical equations.
2. Don’t copy and paste the first paragraph of your body content or anything from your web page, the description meta tag must be unique.
3. Do not enter a string of keywords, ‘over-optimization’ triggers filters and, with the shift to semantics, duplications are easier to spot. If you were writing a description for a directory entry and you put:
That submission would never be accepted. With the reliance search engines have on directories – Google use DMOZ, Yahoo use Yahoo Directory, MSN use(d) Looksmart/Zeal – you should treat search engines with the same professionalism. Again, with the larger search engines, your not just dealing with a computer program. There are cheats for computer games, not ranking algorithms.
4. Keep the description tag down to 294 characters – the proportions of this will be explained later in this document.
5. Never, ever, ever copy your description tag and place several ‘spam’ tags in the < head > tags. Here is an example of the meta tags from a spam web site:
< meta name="description" content="Fishing rods for sale from the best fishing rods supplier in the US. We sell fishing rods, fishing gear, fish bait, fish food, fish tanks and more at our fishing rods web site." >
< meta name="default" content="Fishing rods for sale from the best fishing rods supplier in the US. We sell fishing rods, fishing gear, fish bait, fish food, fish tanks and more at our fishing rods web site." >
< meta name="summary" content="Fishing rods for sale from the best fishing rods supplier in the US. We sell fishing rods, fishing gear, fish bait, fish food, fish tanks and more at our fishing rods web site." >
< meta name="keywords" content=" fishing rods, fishing gear, fish bait, fish food, fish tanks" >
This cheat was actually still working on Google up until the end of last year. If you've read through a few of these articles hopefully you will be getting the picture that, although there are several cheats to getting rankings, they are short lived. If you get the honest optimization right the first time, you will only have to make little tweaks every few months to stay on top. Cheat codes and spam means you are having to completely re-write the majority of your site every few weeks (that's if you're lucky enough not to get caught every time and if the cheat has not been filtered before you've finished writing it).
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