Tuesday 6 February 2007

Meta Data Description

Google and Yahoo! SERPs both used my page’s Meta data description; this is fantastic, this is what I hoped for when I spent precious time writing the Meta description.

Unfortunately not all search engines are so kind, MSN and ASK didn’t use my Meta data description, no they used a random selection of text from the page. Well to be honest to them when I say in random they did actually use: firstly the 'h1' title of the page, followed by the text from an anchor link (with my initial search term in it), then the search term again highlighted in ‘bold’; you may think this is all well and good, but it’s not - yes it brings up all the search terms searched for, but in a very disjointed way, and the problem with this is that to your potential customer your page link looks like it was written by someone illiterate (unfortunately this loses trust).

When the Meta description is written correctly giving the potential customer a good idea of what is at the other end of the link – yes let them know and if there’s a cost involved let them know that too – you give yourself a head start; why do you think that Adwords on the right hand side of the screen perform so poorly – there’s hardly any room for a description.

But it’s not all that simple, there has to be more than just an initial benefit for clicking your link, there has to be trust; I like it when I see the company title in the 'title' tag, I also like to see a good clear URL (uniform resource locator); I mean how many times have you searched and found the top five or six positions in SERPs have all got dodgy looking URLs, shady titles, or even the whole thing in bold or capitals – I mean where’s that coming from, it’s like opening your door to a salesman who thinks it’s cool to have dressed up like Leatherface.

So I think we’re getting there, that is Google and Yahoo!, MSN and ASK are just not playing ball at the minute. Where was I, oh yes benefits, a benefit is something essential to get someone to click through to your Website – this is the what’s in it for me situation; we covered trust, if you didn’t quite get trust here it is again – keep your page title, and URL looking sane and of course clean and tidy – it’s bad enough what MSN and ASK do before you really spoil it for yourself. Next it’s the trigger, this is what makes someone think – yes this is for me, I will find what I’m after one click from here, so make them pull that trigger.

So you see why I was so pleased when Google and Yahoo! decided to use my Meta data, they used my advert – and a reasonably lengthy one at 122 characters – an advert which says what I want my customers to read, not a keyword packed jumbled up sentence which will be of no consequence because this potential customer has now gone down a position and clicked on another link.
So no matter how good your SEO (search engine optimization) is it all means nothing if you don’t follow it up with a good Meta description and a clean and tidy link – so remember benefit, trust, trigger and stick with Google & Yahoo!