Are Meta Description Tags Still Important For SEO?

With constantly changing algorithms, what used to be very basic SEO techniques deployed for on site page optimization some years ago are now being questioned. First meta keywords were given the push and now, seemingly people are questioning the importance of meta description information. So are meta descriptions still important for SEO?

The quick and intelligent answer is yes. HELL YES. Google LOVES a good meta description and in fact, it’s giving them so much attention that they will now even step in, assess whether your description is an accurate reflection of the page and if not, will go through the trouble of providing an alternative description by pulling content elsewhere if it feels it’s necessary. How kind of them. If you’re lucky, they might even go through the hassle of doing the same thing with your page title. Hmmm.

If ever you are in any doubt of whether Google cares about your meta descriptions, experiment with putting a few misleading descriptions on a test site and then an accurate description in the page copy or DMOZ directory. Watch how fast it indexes its own formulated description.

I’ve tried this myself, it’s pretty impressive. If you really want to take this search engine optimization experiment further, and see the results of multiple inaccurate descriptions, take a page that you know is ranking well for a key term, remove the meta description for that page and undertake your usual link building activity. I am certain you will see a fall within a 3 week time period.

Including Keywords

Including keywords within your meta description is still as equally important. Why would Google go through the hassle of putting search query terms identified in your description in bold if they didn’t? It’s still a no brainer and you should aim to bring in at least one or two focus key terms and a call to action within your meta description. SEO mofo’s rich snippet tool is still a quick an easy way of checking how your snippet is going to look and just how spammy or successful those descriptions are going to look. If you’re using WordPress, check All In One SEO pack from Yoast to keep each one of your posts meta title, descriptions and (if you fancy) keywords in check.

Ensuring Each Meta Description Is Unique

Another point to highlight, is that Google are pretty keen to tell you when you’ve got instances of multiple descriptions. Go into your Webmaster tools, hit HTML suggestions and take a look for yourself. Google are still as keen as ever for each of your pages to have it’s own unique description, and so should you be too.

If you’ve got a particularly popular brand, or if someone is trying to spam the hell out of you, they might perform a site search via one of the search engines to get a pretty picture of all your indexed pages. Should they for some insane reason be doing this to navigate your site in an unorthodox fashion, you might want to make their journey that little easier by providing relevant meta descriptions so that they can differentiate between your pages.

Scott is a writer who would suggest that as long as you have time, you should always include a well optimized meta description and maybe even some meta keywords too.

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