Google Recommends Using Meta Description Tag

Nov 27, 2006 • 7:49 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

There has always been confusion on if Google uses the meta tag data. Some say Google uses the meta description tag, some say they don't. Most say, Google doesn't use the meta keywords tag. In any event, Google's Vanessa Fox said that you should use the meta description tag.

In a Google Groups post, Vanessa responded to a perceived indexing issue as follows:

Looking at your site in the search results, it appears that your pages would be well served by meta description tags. For most queries, the generated snippet is based on where the query terms are found on the page, and in those cases, your results are fine. But for some more generic queries, where a logical snippet isn't found in the text, the generated snippet seems to be coming from the first bits of text from the page -- in this case, boilerplate navigation that is the same for every page.

In summary, by adding a meta description tag, a unique one, for each page, Google will use that information as extra criteria to determine the uniqueness of the page. That is how I understand it. Otherwise, Google will use the top text of your page's content, and that can potentially be your top navigation or worse. This comes in handy for conducting site: command searches with no keyword specific data given after the site command.

Forum discussion at Google Groups.

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Comments:

Andy Beal

11/27/2006 02:50 pm

I thought we already knew this? Using the description tag helps for display purposes, but does nada for actual ranking - unless you learned something else Barry, that you're keeping to yourself. ;-)

Barry Schwartz

11/27/2006 03:11 pm

I think this is the first time Google said this publicly. I can be wrong...

Li Evans

11/27/2006 07:02 pm

Great find Barry! It's great to see Google make this recommendation, even though it is quite vague of how it affects "rankings". Like Andy I don't think it matters for beans - but it does get people to click on listings.

Andy Beal

11/28/2006 06:41 pm

You're never wrong Barry!

Michael Martinez

11/29/2006 06:31 pm

It's always good to have an authoritative source link. This was a great find, Barry! Thanks.

Halfdeck

02/16/2007 04:55 pm

This is actually a great find Barry, because Vanessa is responding to a guy with indexing problems, not low SERP CTR or ranking issues.

Michiel

02/27/2007 10:48 pm

I think they say something else now, see <a href="http://2optimize.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/google-snippets-better-than-meta-description/" rel="nofollow">snippets better than meta description</a>

No Name

01/14/2008 08:59 am

Nice Article. I wonder why dont many people use the Meta Tags more often than what they do.

cerita

10/02/2008 05:54 pm

What is true if i use double meta description in my blog? thanks

Timothy W. Crane

12/07/2008 07:09 pm

I see no conflict between the two viewpoints. If you have some crummy beginning text that you have displayed at the beginning of every article that would make all of your search results text look the same, then snippets might not be a good idea, put in a meta. If you want custom metas for every page you can do this every time, just remember, that it seems that you need your meta data, if read as your results snippet on the search engine, to match what your INTERNAL data shows your visitors are actually searching for. This is a good way to increase click through conversion without rewriting your content completely. Thanks Google, finally some information we can use for once.

Timothy W. Crane

12/07/2008 07:27 pm

I see no conflict between the two viewpoints. If you have some crummy beginning text that you have displayed at the beginning of every article that would make all of your search results text look the same, then snippets might not be a good idea, put in a meta. If you want custom metas for every page you can do this every time, just remember, that it seems that you need your meta data, if read as your results snippet on the search engine, to match what your INTERNAL data shows your visitors are actually searching for. This is a good way to increase click through conversion without rewriting your content completely. Thanks Google, finally some information we can use for once.

Dipajan Sasmal

11/08/2009 04:20 am

I want to about Meta Tags

No Name

10/16/2010 11:59 am

What happens if you have 2 description meta tags, will it violate google's rules?

Katherine

10/19/2011 04:30 pm

What if you use blogger?

ClickSSL

02/24/2012 06:51 am

Google doesn't use the "keywords" meta tag in our web search ranking. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has the ability to match meta tags, which could include the keywords meta tag. But that's an enterprise search appliance that is completely separate from our main web search. Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don't have any effect in our search ranking at present. Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don't use the description meta tag in our ranking. - ClickSSL.com

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