4 Reasons Why You Should Still Use Meta Descriptions in SEO
Most SEO’s might find themselves asking “If meta descriptions don’t count into the rankings algorithm, why should I use them?” The answer to that is simple.
Stop thinking about them as a ranking factor, and start thinking about them as a conversion factor.
Here are some great reasons to still keep your meta description in mind on your website including your homepage, internal pages, blog posts, and so on.
Reason 1: Bolded Keywords in Search Results
Even if the keyword you use in the meta description doesn’t help in search rankings, it still might help in getting a searchers attention. When someone searches for a particular keyword or phrase, it will be bolded in search results where ever it appears. So if you are targeting that keyword, you will want it to stand out. In this set of results for search engine, which results jump out to you?
It goes to show why your top keyword phrase should be in your SEO title and meta description! You wouldn’t want to be the one result in this list that had no bolded keywords for that search. So be sure your meta description uses the keywords you are targeting and is written in a way that will encourage searchers to click on that result.
Reason 2: Used in Social Networks Websites
Whenever you share a page on social networks like Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn, each site will pull either the meta description or the first sentence or two of the post as the description to show in the share. The meta description will usually be shown in its entirety, while the first sentence or two of your post will end up cut off with ellipsis […]. While you can edit the description for Facebook and LinkedIn, not everyone sharing your page will do so.
Google+, on the other hand, will only let you remove the description.
This means that if your first sentence or two on the page doesn’t sum it up well, people who see the share might miss the point. Hence, if you want your page’s shares to get the most clicks on social media, consider creating a strong meta description that will encourage clicks, just like you would for search results.
Reason 3: Social Bookmarking Networks Use It
Many social bookmarking networks will also use the meta description as a page’s description on their network.
A few examples of networks that do include meta descriptions are: Digg, BizSugar, and My SEO Community. Just about any social bookmarking / voting network built on the Pligg CMS system will also use the meta description first. While you can edit the descriptions on these networks, you can’t count on whether others who submit your pages will. Plus, if you don’t have to edit the descriptions, then you save a little work for yourself if you are submitting your own pages.
Reason 4: Autosnippets Stink
If you put nothing in your description tag, search engines will create a description for you in the search result snippet (a.k.a. “autosnippet”). And you might not like it. On the other hand, no matter how much work you put into crafting a perfect description tag, Google reserves the right to generate its own description to display in the search results based on what it thinks is best for the user.
In those instances, the search engine determines what text on the page would be ideal to display instead of the description you provided. One source that Google uses to create autosnippets is the Open Directory Project, and you can prevent Google from using information there by adding a specific meta tag to your pages.