By Jon Paget
MySpace (facebook), MiniDisk players (iPod), Katie Price (tbc); the list of things that became unfashionable or were replaced by something more desirable during the noughties is long if nothing else. But in terms of SEO techniques, is the optimisation of a page’s meta description one of them?
Well in a word, no.
It’s true that Google and some of the other search engines no longer use the meta description as part a site's assessment. However it still represents an important part of your on-page SEO.
You may not have noticed but you often see a website’s meta description every time you use Google. This is because Google often displays a site’s meta description under the first line of each search result (Google can use other sources for this text).
But why optimise it?
Well Google can (and does) use randomly selected text from a page that matches the search criteria, often choosing to display text that includes the chosen keywords of your search.
So if you don’t optimise your meta description you run the risk of Google choosing the text displayed in the search results for you.
And what’s the problem with this you might ask? The answer lies in the fact that many of us use this text to determine if we’ll click on a link or not when searching for something. As users we often determine a site's relevance from this text (if a certain page found in the search results matches what we’re looking for).
So if the text is clear, relevant, engaging and includes a call to action you’re more likely to encourage a click-through. As a result; much more traffic to your website.
If you don’t optimise what’s displayed, not even the mighty Google can help you.