Keeping Meta Descriptions Current (and food safe)
Meta descriptions have not been a significant ranking factor for a while now (nor have keywords), but they remain important for optimizing click through rate (CTR). They are essentially ad copy to encourage people to click on your link in search engine results pages (SERPs). Position is the biggest factor in CTR, but well crafted meta descriptions (when they're not changed by Google) can make big improvements in CTR. By creating easy to read, compelling ad copy and integrating it with relevant keywords, you increase the likelyhood a user will choose your page from the SERPs. Most companies set and forget their meta descriptions and rarely review them. However, Uncle Ben reminded us today that it's worth spending some time reviewing your meta descriptions on a regular basis. Go ahead, Google "uncle ben's". I'll wait.
Gross. That's a pretty significant mistake.
BUT, that's not even the worst offense. After clicking on the link (still not sure why), I tried to find the product in question. The problem is- they don't even sell rice bowls (or rice bowels) and they haven't since 2008 as far as I can tell. WHAT?!?! For their sake I hope I'm wrong, but it stands to reason that a rather egregious typo has been in their meta description for at least 5 years. Five years of their HOMEPAGE meta description mistakenly associating their primary product with one of the more unsavory sections of the human digestive system. Even if they never made that typo, it's almost 5 years of ad copy mentioning a product they don't even make! For a national brand, 5 minutes of inaccurate meta descriptions could be costing you conversions.
The lesson? Even if you don't have any unfortunate typos in your meta descriptions, they are worth reviewing to make sure you're accurately representing yourself in the SERPs. Keep those descriptions relevent with your offerings and your customers' searches. Your products change and the keywords people search with change. Are you confusing your users with misleading descriptions?
Incidentally, if you're the in charge of Uncle Ben's digital marketing efforts please contact us, we'd be happy to run some content experiments to show you the power of accurate, relevant and food safe meta descriptions.
Note - It looks like they discovered the issue and have since updated the meta description on page. As of today Google is still showing the old description but that will likely change soon as it gets reindexed.