Friday, September 28, 2007
The quality of your snippet—the short text preview we display for each web result—can have a direct impact on the chances of your site being clicked (that is, the amount of traffic Google sends your way). We use a number of strategies for selecting snippets, and you can control one of them by writing an informative meta description for each URL.
<meta content="informative description here" name="Description"/>
Why does Google care about meta descriptions?
We want snippets to accurately represent the web result. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL's content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don't achieve this goal and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular, non-meta description, snippet. And it's worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't affect your ranking within search results.
What are some good meta description strategies?
Differentiate the descriptions for different pages
Using identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site isn't very helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we're less likely to display the boilerplate text. Create descriptions that accurately describe each specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and consider using page-level descriptions everywhere else. You should obviously prioritize parts of your site if you don't have time to create a description for every single page; at the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.