Should you write Unique Meta Description for Every Page?

hello everyone,

a friend of mine who is working for e-commerce toy company asked me if he needs to write unique meta description for every page of their e-commerce.
I used to advice such practice for small e-shops, but apparently they have over 20,000 pages and only 3 pages with unique meta description.

Any idea, specially taking Panda update into consideration? Thank you!

The only time anyone sees the Description meta text is when a search engine uses it for a “snippet”, that is, the small extract of text that appears below the page title in the search results. But that text is one of the main bits of information about the page that the searcher sees, and they will usually use it to help them decide whether to click through or not.

On that basis, the text is very important. Your friend needs to choose the most compelling and informative text that will encourage the visitor to click through. It’s unlikely that a piece of generic text that applies to the site as a whole will do that. It’s much better to customise the text for each product that he is selling.

That doesn’t mean that he has to create 20,000 pieces of text by hand. He presumably already has some descriptive text about each product in the system, so it should be possible to generate something automatically. And with such a large product range, he presumably employs dedicated marketing staff who can either write the text or source it from the manufacturers or whatever.

As for taking Panda into consideration, that’s totally irrelevant. You can safely ignore it (in this case).

Mike

Mikl is on the right track. Writing all those unique descriptions would not be best use of time.

Depending on the e-commerce platform you’re using, they can be automatically generated or just let search engines find the info in your product description on the page. Hopefully your e-commerce platform gives you some easy ways to populate this content on all the pages without too much monotonous work.

You might want to research schema.org for product info here too: http://schema.org/Product
That might be more important info to feed to search engines than meta description.

I agree, for that quantity of pages you could automate the generation of meta descriptions. I’ve done this a few times in the past by using structured data from the CMS to create a standard format.

Example

CMS has various content fields such as:

Alternative title {title_alt} (sometimes used as TITLE tags or content links)
Short description {short_desc} (max 60 characters)
Summary description {summary} (max 150 characters)
Sale price {sale_price}
Normal price {price}
Status {status} (eg On sale, Bestseller, New arrival…)

Using some of those bits of data I then construct the meta data something like this (using ExpressionEngine tags as examples):

<meta name="description" content="
{status} 
{if sale_price}
  {sale_price} 
{if:else}
  {price} 
{/if}
{if summary}
  {summary}
{if:else}
  {short_desc}
{/if}
">

That gives a common format of STATUS + PRICE + DESCRIPTION. Depending on how many characters are inputted into the product data it usually falls within 150 characters, sometimes it’s over but missing a word or two on the end doesn’t hurt/