It’s safe to assume that Google’s crusade against low-quality search results won’t let up come 2014 (or ever), so it’s important to regularly evaluate and reevaluate your digital marketing strategy in general and search engine optimization initiatives in particular.
Armageddon among SEOers nearly ensued following the Panda and Penguin updates a few years back, and even still these cute little tweeks (for which I’ve previously displayed my affection) have been eclipsed by the most recent Hummingbird algorithm update. This coupled with the shocking revelation that we had been stripped of our keyword data has really forced our SEO strategy, not to mention our heads, to do a number of exhausting 180’s. Though frustrated as the next digital marketer, I also find myself enthusiastic and even motivated by the challenge. Not only do these updates rid the SERPs of irrelevancy, black hat bull shit, scammers and spammers, but they are also highly focused on a style of marketing I have appreciated even during the days of yesterfar, when keyword stuffing yielded page 1 search results. This area of focus is the development of useful, high-quality content created for a specific audience and purpose.
I could talk for days about the importance of high-quality content, but in this post I wanted to address SEO that involves a classic tactic as well as modern strategy: Meta Descriptions.
Website meta tags are nothing new and each serves its own purpose. As we all know, <meta name="keywords" is useless as far as SEO is concerned, but <meta name="description" has always remained relevant, most effectively used to give descriptive snippets of info displayed on search results pages to give the user an idea of what the website is all about. But historically this attribute has also been used as a tool for SEO in that it helped the search engines determine for which keywords the site should rank.
It's no secret that in today's SEO world meta descriptions don't carry nearly as much clout as they once did, and it's uncertain as to whether or not the search engines are even using its data as a piece of the algorithmic equation that determines rankings. But it need not be neglected that providing the user with a relevant, high quality search experience, i.e. having a clean, informative, useful summary attached to a website's position on the SERPs, earns brownie points as far as Google is concerned. So regardless of whether or not keyword optimization can still be accomplished via meta descriptions, it's certain that the robots know what the attribute contains as well as the data it's attempting to process.
To help advance this point I'll cite the Search Engine Journal‘s report on Matt Cutt’s recent observation on the quality of having unique meta descriptions on webpages. It was observed that having multiple identical attribute content is a no, no and that it’s best to “either have unique metatag descriptions, or…choose not to put any metatag description at all.” Mr. Cutts certainly promotes the importance (and effectiveness in terms of SEO) of having unique, high-quality meta description content on each web page of a site. Check out the full post HERE and Mr. Cutts video take on the issue.
Check out Moz.com to find Meta Description Best Practices.