The meta description tag has so little relative ranking power (to the page title) that we might just as well concentrate on click-through, and in regards to click-through it can be – heck, is – a major factor.
With well designed meta descriptions, you can often lead the snippet – that’s the description displayed to the User in the SERPs – to pull from the description itself, so putting the effort into making it read right is well worth the effort. If it doesn’t pull from there its going to pull from the body, and that’s a little bit more difficult to get right because you are going to be faced with some significant content re-ordering in most cases.
Of course, you can’t put all of your text in the meta description, so you will at some point end up with ranking for text that appears in the body copy of your page.
As already noted in a previous post, markup order is not always the best order for snippet creation, so you may want to locate body text first and navigation second: CSS is the preferred means to do this.
This brings up the question of what to put in your meta description tag versus body copy. There is not one perfect right answer to do this, but in general you should let the competitiveness or profitability of the search phrase dictate this.
Use the title tag for competitive, short-tail searches with higher volume. Reinforce and emphasise the title that you’ve used in the meta description and add sufficient modifiers and additional terms to attract closely-related longer tail searches as well.
In creating page titles, for best click-through we want titles that read like advertising headlines, and we want the words to appear in the order that our target market – that’s humans – is going to read them; this is not always the best title for ranking, so we have to be open to trade-offs.
And that’s ok, because we can almost always make the title primarily through humans and make up any ranking loss with link text and page rank.
Our standard for page titles – those 69 characters, inlcuding spaces – that husband your ambition at the top of your web page is: good enough for ranking and best we can get for humans – not the other way round.
Let the body copy, then, attract the essentially infinite long tail that takes nothing more than words on the page in order to attract traffic.
But text snippets are no longer the only choice here – there are snippet links to consider, and we’re going to look at two variations: Google Snippet Links