How Can Meta Description Tags Help With The Practice Of Search Engine Optimization?
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What Are Meta Tags Used For?
When the Internet was young, meta tags dominated the SEO landscape. Unfortunately, “black hat SEO” techniques that exploited meta tags forced many leading search engines to deprecate them. Those search engines are slowly reversing their ban on them as they become more sophisticated.
Meta tag information was developed to help categorize websites. While mostly invisible to visitors, they provide search engines and directory curators with important information as to what the website is about, who wrote the content, who owns the site, and the general topics it covers. With the introduction of elements like security certificates, robots.txt, sitemaps, and the increased value of backlinks, their importance was diminished.
Yet, certain meta tags persisted and remain as important as ever. These include DESCRIPTION, AUTHOR, and TITLE. (ROBOTS, REVISIT_AFTER, and others are also still important but outside the scope of this article.) Most search engines look for them when indexing the site and its pages, and return this information to visitors in the search results.
The DESCRIPTION Meta Tag and SEO
There are numerous tools available for generating content for several meta tags but the DESCRIPTION is left to you, and provides a great opportunity for SEO. This DESCRIPTION is what the search engine lists for your pages, so the same rules that apply to naming URLs are in play.
Without resorting to outright keyword stuffing, incorporate as many of your keywords as possible into the tag without turning it into machine language. Be sure that your DESCRIPTION reads comfortably because actual people will be reading it. None of your keywords should appear more than three to four times on any page – including both pages content as well as the meta tags.
One suggestion for your overall SEO strategy is to use keywords and phrases potential visitors will be searching for in the DESCRIPTION meta tag, while focusing on popular SEO keywords in other areas – notably the KEYWORDS tag, page titles, and URLs. Few people in 2019 are likely to recognize, much less use, Boolean search techniques but search engines still do.
Your site-wide SEO strategy should include meta tags like KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION but many webmasters overlook them because search engines deprecated them years ago. As search engines become more sophisticated, they are able to delineate between abusive meta tag SEO techniques and solid SEO practices.