Meta tags are HTML attributes used to describe page elements like keywords, content, author of the content written and other metadata. Meta Description is one of that HTML attribute that is used to describe the content of the page. Few years back it was all about Meta tags, Meta tags and Meta tags. Meta tags have played a significant role in SEO for long years. We all used to spend a lot of time figuring out the appropriate keyword density and optimal length of the description but my question now is “Is it really worth spending time to create Meta Description or Keywords tags for each and every page of your website?”
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team shares his views on the same on by answering to a user from Netherlands who asked him the question on Nov 18th 2013 :
“Is it necessary for each single page within my website to have a unique meta description?”
According to Matt, you have two practical approaches to this situation – one is have a unique meta description for each and every single page or dont have a meta description at all but it is important to not have any duplicate meta descriptions for your pages. The lazy fix for this is just register your website with Google Webmaster Tool and let the tool do the hard work for you. Google Webmaster tool is one of a amazing tool to keep track of your site’s pages, crawl errors, search traffics and much more features. Once you register your website with it, it crawls your website notifying you of any detected errors or warnings. It will report all the pages that have duplicate meta descriptions under “Search Appearances” -> “HTML Improvements”. Once you reach that page it will show the overview report of the site and you can browse through it to see all the pages that need a fix.
He also says that it is possibly not worth spending your time generating unique meta descriptions for all the pages on the website and says that even he doesn’t spend time writing meta descriptions for his blogs. Let Google do the hard work of generating the meta description for you pages through it’s own snippets. BUt he also suggests that if you think some page on your website are important, or have a high ROI, your home page, featured products page and you think that Google’s generated meta description is not up to your mark then you can go ahead and write a unique meta description for those pages.
Now that we know that its not really a necessity to spend time writing meta descriptions, it would be wonderful if we dont even need to work out on the Meta Keywords tag as well. So I found a video of Matt Cutts uploaded on Mar 19, 2012 and there he says that “You shouldn’t spend any time on the meta Keywords tag”. There are no pages in the search engines (where he means Google) these days that use meta keywords to determine the importance of that tag as that tag is not visible on the SEPRs.
In the later part of the video he puts importance on meta description tags but I would say we can ignore that part as in his latest video he said that Google will generate those snippets for you.
Here is what I found when I tried to analyze what Matt had to say about the Meta Description and the Meta Keywords tag.
I searched “Meta Descriptions” in google and the following results were displayed.
As you can see that Moz has acquired the top rank for that keywords and the description of that page displayed on the SERP is “Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages. Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine …”
When I visited that page and checked their Meta Tags this is what is found:
1. No Meta keywords written
2. The actual Meta Description written by the page author is “Get SEO best practices for the meta description tag, including length and content.” This description is nowhere included on the SERP for the term searched.
Then from where was the Meta description displayed on the SERP generated. The answer is – Google snippets try to generate the most precise description for the page from the actual content of the displayed page. They try to make it as accurate as possible based on the quality of the content written. It is not necessarily the first few sentences of the page, it can be the located anywhere on the page – top, middle or at the end of the content.
I checked the few other displayed results on the SERP for the same keyword and found that the description generated was the first line but instead they were selected couple of line after the first line.
It is not necessary to create Meta Description for all the pages of your website instead you can either leave it blank and let Google do your job or create completely unique descriptions for most important pages. Do not have duplicate meta descriptions and to help you find that make use of Google Webmaster Tools.
Create quality content for your pages without any keyword stuffing as that will give search engines create a good description for you helping you rank higher.
It is not worth spending your time writing (thinking) meta keywords for your pages thinking that it will help you rank higher as Google doesn’t have any pages that uses Meta Keywords tags in their search algorithm according to Matt Cutts. But if you are focusing other search engines which account for 35% of the searches made that will be a different story and we are not aware of what their considerations are.
Will you be still spending time generating Meta description and Meta Keywords? Share your thoughts and reviews on this.