Why You Don't Need A Meta Description
I love meetings with Amy. She’s the under resourced, perma-smiling Marketing Manager of one of our legal clients. When I’m lucky enough to be part of the team involved in our quarterly meet ups to discuss Amy’s website, we always seem to find something particularly interesting.
At our last meeting we uncovered the early signs of a major exploit attempt on the WordPress blog. It was great! We nixed the exploit with a swift move to a more reliable web host while we updated the decent plugins and killed off a few crappy ones.
This afternoon though, our seemingly aimless ferreting revealed something truly extraordinary. Something that might save overworked Amy some time. Something which might save any overworked marketing manager some time. Much as I love Amy, she mustn’t be the only one to benefit!
Google Writes Great Meta Descriptions
You REALLY don’t need to write Meta Descriptions. The biggest AI company on the planet is REALLY doing a fantastic job writing Meta Descriptions for you.
Let me show you.
We did this search:
And saw this result (click for full size in a new tab):
Good times – Amy’s page http://www.porterdodson.co.uk/difference-divorce-judicial-separation/ is above the Gov.uk site. Bad times – It’s not no 1*
But the most interesting thing is the ‘Meta Description’ bit on the Search Results Page…
Amy didn’t write this excellent Meta Description. In fact this post doesn’t have a Meta Description at all. Google has cobbled this "Snippet" together from two or three separate chunks of content from near the end of the post. It’s compiled the Snippet in a way which not only answers the tacit question inherent in the search query but also gives Amy’s site much more screen real estate. This is 304 characters long! 4 lines!
The Google compiled Snippet even changes depending on the search query. Here's another version for a longer tailed search (click for full size in a new tab):
As a result this page is driving lots of organic search traffic in a really competitive legal niche.
While this isn’t totally new – For the geekier marketing professional, Dr Pete has more examples, better research here, it is another example of Google evolving and becoming more intelligent in the way it answers our questions.
Publishing excellent content for your website will give you the best chance of seeing the same results for your business because you’re feeding Google’s machine learning beast the answers it so hungrily devours.
*Interesting to note that the top ranking organic result has much better page strength from a back linking domains perspective – so far so SEO. The .gov.uk result beats us hands down on domain strength and Query Deserves Freshness signals… Yet it still ranks lower and has a pretty tiny amount of screen real estate.