How to Use Meta Descriptions for Search Engine Optimization

Posted on March 16, 2011 • Written by Brad Anderson

From time to time you may find that Google snatches odd bits of text from your site to display in search results. This can be extremely frustrating to site owners who are trying very hard to specifically get their meta description to display in the search results—right under the link to their site. In fact, most site owners specifically craft their meta descriptions as a way to boost their SEO.
Snippet for meta description
In general, your Google snippet is taken either from your meta description or from your page copy. If you want to boost your SEO, and search results appearance, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood that your meta description will be used instead of on-site copy. This is also called snippet optimization.

Snippet Optimization

1) How to write a good sentence for SEO

Google likes content that is crafted in a user-readable form. In other words, don’t just make you meta description a list of keywords. Craft a grammatically correct sentence that describes what your site is all about (using your main keywords), Google will be more likely to display it.

2) Don’t repeat meat descriptions

Search engines will also give you an SEO boost if you have unique meta descriptions for different pages of your site. If all your meta descriptions are the same, Google is more likely to take snippets of page copy to use in the search results. Make your meta descriptions different and unique and you’ll get some SEO love.

3) Block snippets

If you really want to get drastic, you can tell search engines not to take page snippets by adding a content=”nosnippet” tag. This is not usually recommended because it could potentially block search engines from crawling the content of your site, witch will definitely hurt your SEO—but it can be done.

On the other hand, letting Google take whatever it wants from your site content and use it as a snippet isn’t entirely a bad thing. Overall, Google is simply trying to match user search terms with words and phrases on your site. And letting Google grab the piece of text from your site that is most relevant to a user’s search, may be an extremely positive result that will get more people to click through and give you more site traffic. Ideally, the best option is to optimize your meta description really well. This will result in higher click through rates and eventually higher rankings.

Brad Anderson

Written by Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson is the Executive Director and Founder of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.

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