One question I get asked a lot is how to write a good meta description tag for a webpage. You will hear many “guru” IM’ers preach about writing an enticing description that will encourage searchers to click to your website from the search engine results page versus clicking on one of your competitors.
A few years ago, that was good advice. Today, I’m going to recommend something for you that will make it much easier than struggling to come up with the perfect description.
Do no write meta description tags for your webpages.
There. Done. Easy.
I know, for some of you, this is going to be rather shocking. You have been told time and time again of how important a good meta description tag is. Years ago, many felt it helped your rankings.
Today many people think it is important because it helps the click through rates on your page once you do have some decent rankings.
Well, they no longer play a role in rankings. They are useless from that standpoint. Can they help your click through rates? Sure.
However, having no description can actually help your click through rates even more.
Some of you might be thinking, “What the hell are you talking about Mike? How is having no description going to actually get me more clicks?”
The first time this idea popped into my head was when I was studying some of the things that Wikipedia does on their pages a few years ago. I noticed that they do not use the meta description tag. So I started digging into this. Why do they do that? Wikipedia ranks for damn near everything, so they clearly know what they are doing.
The answer is actually pretty simple. Google has become pretty good over the past few years at understanding what a webpage is about.
In fact, even if you have a meta description that you wrote for your webpage, sometimes Google will override that and display one that they feel is more relevant to the search query.
Chances are, if you are doing the right things, eventually your webpage is going to rank for its targeted keywords, as well as other keywords you were not targeting. Sometimes even some pretty obscure words you never thought of.
The advantage of not having a predefined meta description is that Google will select one, from the content of your page, that it feels best matches the search query of the user. Instead of one standard meta description for every searcher, you now have what I call a dynamic meta description tailored to every search user that might find your page in the SERPs.
The only exception I make to this tactic is if I have a webpage that is laser-targeting a specific search phrase (which is very rare) or for things like contact or about pages. I will write those myself.
Outside of those exceptions, I never use meta descriptions, and have not done so for several years now.