Hit or Miss? Using meta tags to convert web search results into click-throughs


Apr 18, 2012

Today we’re going to begin by transporting one of our web designers in New Jersey to another place and time. Let’s say he’s in Morocco in 1901. It’s a clear day, not yet too hot – and he’s hungry.  There’s only one souk in “town,” so that’s where he’s going to search for breakfast. As he arrives at Assad’s, the first vendor’s stall in the market, he spots some lemons that look good enough to eat, so he strikes a bargain there and his shopping is done. Unfortunately, he never gets far enough to find out that Hassan, around the corner, has lemons that are juicier — and he certainly has no way of knowing that still farther along, Sharif has hidden some delectable blood oranges in a sack. The lesson for our time? Doing business today on the web – as in the souk of long ago — is all about visibility, getting the prospective customer to the place where your wares are for sale, and making them attractive.

Click Throughs

Attracting shoppers on the web

There are several steps that lead from searches on the web to the actual sales transactions that are the lifeblood of e-commerce. Clearly, your site has to come up when a shopper searches for the type of goods you are offering (in the example above, it might be “delicious fruits for sale in Morocco”), and that’s why SEO and SEM (search engine optimization and marketing) are so important. But once you’ve managed to get a search engine to discover and index your e-commerce site and list you in the search results it returns, how do you get the person who did the search to click through to your site rather than the one that’s displayed at the top? And how do you help them understand what’s different about your site compared to the other search results?

Metas make the difference

That’s where meta tags can make a vital difference. All other things being equal, the text that Google or another engine will show in its results is very likely to be taken from your meta tags – title and/or description – for the page. So you want those tags to be informative, differentiating and persuasive, all in an inviting way.

Here are some tips from our web developers for how to do just that:

  • First of all, concentrate on putting your most persuasive marketing message forward in natural language that will peak readers’ interest.
  • Remember that Google will only display the first 140 or so characters and spaces, so be concise and mention the main point first.
  • Put title and description tags on every page of your site, and don’t repeat them or use boilerplate.
  • Don’t keyword-stuff — Google warns that the practice makes you look spammy to them and to users.
  • Include structured data about a page that brings together key info on the product offered, such as manufacturer and price.
  • You may want to stop the search engines from using DMOZ data about your site from the Open Directory Project if you prefer your own description. Dotcomweavers’ NJ web design experts can take care of this for you.

These suggestions barely scratch the surface of what can be achieved through informed and artful use of meta tags on your site. For more information from our knowledgeable web developers, contact us today.

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