In a recent Matt Cutts blog post (for the unaware: Matt Cutts is a Google engineer, one relatively famous in this admittedly rarified subsphere of society) the great sage introduced the META “NOODP” tag, and how it can help webmasters control, somewhat, the appearance of their results in Google.
Why does this even matter?
On occasion, Google will use the Title and Description from your site’s DMOZ listing in its own search results.
Of course, this only matters if your website is listed in DMOZ (for the uninitiated, the Open Directory Project, hence ODP, hence my opportunity to both celebrate my total geek status and shout out to Naughty By Nature).
So what’s the big deal? Maybe nothing.
Let me ask you this, though: How old is your DMOZ listing?
Let’s say your site shows up on Google’s first page, and Google is pulling data from DMOZ to use as the title and description for your site listing. If your DMOZ title and description are outdated, so are your Google title and description. And, unless your potential customer/visitor is drawn to things that are outdated, they won’t visit your site.
So, in order to address this problem, there are a couple things you can do:
Check Your DMOZ Listing – Does it say what you want it to say? Make sure your DMOZ listing offers a good indication to any potential visitor regarding what you offer, etc. If it doesn’t, you can change your DMOZ listing.
Use the META “NOODP” Tag – Google now recognizes the following META tag:
<meta name="robots" content="noodp">
It lets Google know not to pull data from your ODP description.
Because, well, maybe your ODP/DMOZ description was a good representation of your website 2 years ago, but now your primary focus has changed and you’re no longer the “World’s #1 Manufacturer of Voodoo NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) Dolls”. Or, maybe you’re waiting for DMOZ (almost universally recognized as maybe not the most responsive directory) to update your site description and don’t want the old one used. Regardless, if you use the “NOODP” tag, make sure your homepage meta description is well-written, and contains your site’s most important keywords.
That’s it. Not much to it. The bottom line is to be aware of and make use of the tools we’re given to get the best results. Plus, man, if you haven’t, go right now and buy Nineteen Naughty Three. Go. Now. No OPP, but I can’t envision a future in which I can drop “Hip Hop Hooray” into StraightUpSearch.