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Why meta descriptions are important

by Chris Sutton | January 29, 2012

Last week we talked about using your product descriptions as a selling tool. One thing that is often overlooked though is the role that the snippets presented in the search results have in getting customers to your site. If the text that you use for your descriptions doesn’t grab the customers’ attention, they will immediately move to the next result and they might never get to see what you have to offer on your site.

These snippets are generally taken from the meta descriptions that you add to each page or product, and the maximum length that Google will read is generally accepted as 156 characters including spaces.

Sometimes Google will take text from the page, either if there is no meta description or your meta description doesn’t seem to have much relevance to your page content. In that case, what is presented to customers looking at search results isn’t necessarily what you want your customer to read initially, so it’s important to make sure you write descriptions that include your keywords for that page and is clearly relevant to the page content.

However, getting back to the concept of grabbing attention in the search results, you want to give everyone a good idea of what either your site or page is about so that they are motivated to click through to your site.

The following are a couple of examples that appeared next to each other in a random Google search.

Descriptions for Google


The first one states that they have over 30,000 computer products, which sounds very impressive, but doesn’t do much to encourage anyone to phone or visit. The second result is much more specific, it does two things, it states exactly what they are specialists in, and more importantly, there is a sales hook of Free Delivery Australia Wide.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that well crafted descriptions can make a difference of up to 25% on click through rates for links that appear on the same page of search results. The logical conclusion from this is that absolute position on any page is perhaps less important than the power of the text snippets that are displayed.

So just as your website content or product descriptions can make or lose a sale, so the quality of the meta descriptions you write can determine if your site is the one that customers will click on.

SiteSuite Website Design - Online Marketing Blog Author Chris Sutton

Co-founder and Managing Director of SiteSuite Australasia, Australian pioneers in web design and ecommerce since 1997. For more from Chris you can follow him on Google+ or Twitter, and for further professional musings and thoughts on his other passions in life,

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