Saturday, May 07, 2005

Google Descriptions

In the old days the meta tags on a web page ruled. Search engines read the meta tags and ranked pages based on that information. It was easy to get a high ranking just by stuffing our meta tags with key words. But people stuffed their meta tags with keywords that were not related to the content of the page. That’s called search engine spam, and as a result most search engines stopped using the meta tags for ranking web pages in search results. Meta tags still have little influence on ranking, but they are rising in importance in your marketing plan.

Under certain circumstances Google now displays the meta description, or part of the meta description, as the description in their search results.

Previously Google displayed snippets of text, containing the search terms, taken from the web page. This gave a description that was disjoined and most often not very descriptive. Google now looks to three sources for a page description: the description meta tag, the DMOZ description, and snippets from the web page. You may now find one of these, or a combination of these used as your description.

In the example below, the text in the red boxes are page snippets. The balance of the descriptions are taken from the page meta description.

This means that you must pay attention to what is in each page description. This is the only part of the Google description you can control. Include the keywords for the page in the description, but don’t stuff it with key words. Remember, the page also needs a compelling description that gives the searcher a reason to want to go to your page. It’s like writing a short classified ad. You need to grab the reader’s attention, and give them a reason to go to your page. Every word is important, and must be included only if there that word has a specific purpose.

Including key words and phrases gets the discription you wrote displayed.

A compelling description gets people to click on the link to your page.

The Google description may display up to 200 characters. Make sure you use them wisely.


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