I just want to run something by you...
It appears the text Google is now showing [for a particular keyword phrase] is from our DMOZ directory listing. Until very recently (and while our listing position was as good as it is now) Google was showing the first few words of text from the body of our home page.
So now the question is should we leave everything as is and enjoy the good listing position, but put up with the less than ideal text in the search results, or should we insert a good meta description and hope Google uses it in our search results without negatively impacting our position?
Hope all is well with you!
The position of your page in the search results for your keyword phrase isn't affected by that DMOZ description. Your position should be the same regardless of what description is shown in the search results.
I would highly suggest adding the "NoODP" Meta tag to your home page to stop Google from using the DMOZ description since it's generally not the best one to have showing in the search results.
The syntax for the tag is as follows:
<meta name="robots" content="noodp">
If you have a Yahoo directory listing as well, you may want to also add "NoYDIR" to the Meta tag, which would look like this:
<meta name="robots" content="noodp, noydir">
We have an old forum thread with more info on this here.
You should definitely add a good Meta description tag as well. If you add the keyword phrase to it (the phrase that's currently triggering the DMOZ description) there's a good chance this will show up as your new description sometime after the next Google crawl.
As an aside, I've been lax with Meta descriptions on our own website's pages, but they are well worth the few minutes of effort to create. Our SEO associate Jesse noticed the other day that the High Rankings Forum was showing a lousy description when it showed up in the search results for "SEO Forum" and that was because we had never applied a Meta description tag to it. It is also showing its DMOZ description when it shows up for "Search Engine Optimization Forum" because we had never applied the NoODP tag either. So we added a Meta description that utilized the phrase "SEO forum" and will see if it makes a difference in a few days. For now, I didn't bother to add the NoODP tag because our DMOZ description actually isn't too bad, but I may go back and fix that when I have some extra time.
Hope this helps!
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CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.
High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.
Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.
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