It’s an Ad, Silly

I was reminded last  week that when I think I’m being repetitive — I’m often just getting through.  For so long SEO was devoid of any marketing theory that I guess I can’t remind people often enough that titles and meta descriptions are really tiny ads.  This morning SEOmoz had a great article on meta descriptions, and so I decided if they are saying it again, it’s still must need saying.

The problem is that people treat their meta descriptions the same way they treat their Google Adwords ads — like dumping grounds.  Your


While not visible on the site itself, this tag is critical for
search engine marketing. There is some
dispute in the SEO community as to how descriptions affect rankings, but it is
vital for search marketing to control your message no matter what the direct search benefits may be. Meta description is what most search engines
will show in the search results and descriptions are gaining new relevance as
social bookmarking sites like and move into the
mainstream. These sites capture the
description tag when users bookmark a Web page, which provides you with yet
another search-based marketing opportunity.  This is one of the many good reasons to give EVERY page of your website should have a unique title AND description.

The optimal length for a description is between 120 and 150
characters, including spaces.  Why should you care?  You should care because Google
generally cuts off after the first 150 characters. If your description rambles on, you leave it to a computer to decide what potential customer should see.  Your message is diluted or utterly destroyed because no one will see what you wanted them to.  Descriptions, in conjunction with titles, are
your best chance to influence searchers to choose your link over another in
search results. You have 120-150
characters to make a compelling case for your site. Are keywords important in descriptions?  Of course they are.  But you need to say something, not just string a bunch of meaning words together.

It’s also important to make sure that the title and description
are in the same language as the page. Spanish language searchers will be less likely
to click through to your site if there are others where the title and
description are in Spanish.  That may seem like an obvious thing, but I just did a review of a site where they had gone through the trouble of creating a Spanish language version of the site, but left all of the titles and descriptions in English.  Ummm….?    Now anyone searching in Spanish may see the site, but why would you click on an English site if you had Spanish options.  From the search results it didn’t look like the site was in Spanish, so it was a wasted effort.

So let’s sum it up:

  1. Unique descriptions for every page. (most sites – there are some exceptions)
  2. Say something.
  3. Use Keywords.
  4. Descriptions in language of page.

Why do we care?

  1. Messaging
  2. Search engine ranking
  3. Social Bookmarking
  4. 20 new technologies that haven’t been invented yet!

Want a review of your site?  Contact and we’ll take a look at your site’s search readiness, usability, and overall online visibility — no strings attached!

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