When to leave the Description meta tag out of your SEO

Posted on April 13, 2009

 

The Description tag is something that pretty much every SEO company and SEO professional will use when optimising your website for search engines. It’s one of those basic things that SEO professionals do by default as it has been part of SEO practise for years.

However, as basic as the Description tag is, there are times when you should actually leave it out altogether.

‘Nonsense’ I hear many SEO experts cry when they read this, but it’s the truth. The Description tag has no bearing on your rankings within Google (despite what some people may tell you) so whether you use it or not, you won’t be doing your rankings in Google’s SERPs any harm.

The Description tag is used in some minor search engines though, so surely removing it would be pointless, detrimental to your SEO in fact?

No, the main reason you might want to leave the Description tag out of your page’s code is to improve the click through rate of your site from Google’s SERPs. You see, the Description is used on Google when your website is returned in a user’s search. Google will either use your meta Description, or in some cases it might use your description within Dmoz (which you can also prevent, and we’ll discuss that another time). However, these descriptions aren’t necessarily relevant to the user’s search query. If you can match your description in the Google SERPs to the query the user is searching on, you’re more likely to find that user clicking on your result instead of someone else’s.

You can do this by removing the Description tag altogether. This will force Google to use a snippet from your page instead of the Description tag. When it does so, it chooses the snippet that is the most relevant to the search query.

So, when you next see a website with no Description meta tags, think, is it because they’ve got a very poor SEO campaign, or is it because they have a very good one?

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