If you are asking about the meta description tag in your page header, a description is needed for each page of your site and it is important. It should accurately describe what is on that page. Search engines use the meta description tag in their search results if it is done properly, so it is your free ad.
I very much agree that the description can be a free ad, but note that Google does not use the description for ranking.
Care should be given to crafting a page-specific description which will contain text that includes the most likely-to-rank queries, so that the description you write will be returned in the serps. Otherwise, Google will pull descriptions from a variety of sources, which might include text on your page.
When matching text is not found in your description or on your page, Google pulls text from the dmoz.org description for the page, should such a listing exist.
See this discussion for details on how to use the NOODP meta tag to exclude DMOZ/ODP titles and descriptions from displaying in Google serps....
Google Supports NOODP Tag
NOODP is now supported by all of the major search engines.
|Do i still need to write down meta description for each? |
I make an effort to do this, but on a large data-base driven site it's not always possible. You may want to experiment to see whether you prefer the snippets Google generates to your own auto-generated snippets. If you have a fairly text rich pages, it's often better to leave this to Google. Don't create one description for the entire site, though.
I tested the importance of meta tags by removing them sitewide from an established site that has been well indexed for years. The result: no change in traffic or rank after 60 days. I added them again at the 60 day mark to help other engines/sites and traffic never missed a beat.
Meta description tags are:
- Useful for discovery/indexing when first publishing a page.
- Useful for sites/services other than Google.
- A non-factor for Google on an established site.
Bottom line: Google apparently trusts nothing a webmaster ads to a page other than the content which is visible to users. This is probably due to their stated mission of leveling the field between solidly coded sites and poorly coded ones.
As Robert Charlton stated, and the good seargent affirmed, meta description is not used for ranking. However, what hasn't been mentioned is the importance of the meta description as an opportunity to inspire a click through from the SERPs. Take a page out of PPC advertising optimization and craft a meta description that describes the page, tells the site visitor "what's in it for them," and if possible include a call to action.
If you don't do PPC then try to train yourself by doing at least a hundred product related searches and review the top ads and identify the qualities of what makes them clickable.
And Google generated snippets in place of the old descriptions?
That traffic never missed a beat suggests to me that either the site gets most of it's traffic from searches that generate snippets (because the keywords aren't in the Meta description) or that the Meta descriptions are of equivalent quality in attracting clickthroughs to the generated snippets that replaced them.
I've personally witnessed noticable improvements in clickthrough rate with meta descriptions tailored to match the intentions of searchers likely to be seeing them.
if your trying to increase visitors, then a description is one of many small things that does help. Search engines currently don't penalise for not having one, but Google do highlight any issues with it in webmaster tools which is an indication to me that itis exististnce is prefered. And you never know when it might become a ranking factor in the future..
|If you don't do PPC then try to train yourself by doing at least a hundred product related searches and review the top ads and identify the qualities of what makes them clickable. |
This is a great suggestion. Thanks.
|I've personally witnessed noticeable improvements in click through rate with meta descriptions tailored to match the intentions of searchers likely to be seeing them. |
I've done this in my niche of a niche that offers a a seasonal 'brick-n-mortar' service.
Page title is set to be the 'what' matching the searchers intent with a terse 'when' included. The meta description is then written as a 'keyword rich' expansion text encompassing the 'when', 'where' and 'how much' with a call to buy statement. If there's room after all that fill text to the allowed max is added to bind it all together in an enticing way. Our competitor's Meta description is a duplicate of their meta keywords - yeah, big power lifting 1998'ish SEO!
BTW facebook allows longer 'meta description' (300 characters) in their proprietary markup description field that you can work even more enticement into your helping the searcher click the correct SERP.
Just one thing I'd add: it's possible that not having a META DESC would adversely affect your site in lesser-known search engines if traffic diversification is important to you.