Long-time search engine optimizers have seen meta tags go from extremely important, in the early days of SEO, to unimportant (and a handy litmus test of an SEO who doesn’t know what they are talking about). Meta keywords still remain fairly unimportant, but the meta description tag has made an impressive comeback. If you haven’t been keeping up with recent changes at the engines, you are missing out on a very large opportunity.
Time to Revisit Your Meta Descriptions
Sites that have been around a long time have been forced to live with their ODP descriptions (Open Directory Project, editor-written site descriptions that were full of flaws) or their Yahoo Directory descriptions (another editor-written directory that was terribly neglected). Thanks to years of site owner complaints, on July 13th, 2006 Google introduced the NO ODP tag. Then on Feb. 28th, 2007 Yahoo introduced the No Yahoo Directory tag. These two tags allow you to control many of your search listings.
Here’s what you should do right now:
- Add the NOODP and NOYDIR tags to pages you are willing to write unique descriptions for.
- Write descriptions with your marketing hat on. This is your chance to draw visitors in. Remember to stay on topic for the page your are writing the description for.
- Don’t lie to your potential visitors to lure them in. The search engines have methods, and will continue to develop more, to know whether or not a user was satisfied after clicking on your listing.
- Related to the last point: though swapping out ODP or YDIR descriptions won’t change your rank immediately, I believe it can change your rank over time based on whether or not the searcher decides to click on your listing and if they are satisfied with your site.
- Be conscious of character limits. It’s okay to let your description run over, but it is not okay for your to leave the important info out.
Revisiting and rewriting your meta descriptions may be one of the most important techniques of a well managed SEO in 2007. A better listing will bring a higher volume of site visitors and strengthen your long-term rank. And the best part: the changes can happen almost overnight.