diberry - 4:36 pm on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)
Yes, and meta="description" copy should be written for human beings, too, because it plays an important role in encouraging clickthroughs.
I've been adding meta description tags to three websites in the past few months, and continue to add them to new pages as I develop them. I've run into an interesting quandary. One two sites, I have many options for writing them for human visitors, as these pages are very easy to find in Google.
But on the third site's niche, Google has never been very good at parsing what the pages mean and what the searcher is trying to find. So everyone in that niche - and I mean the searchers as well as the webmasters - has learned a certain lexicon. The searchers know they must search long tail phrases along the lines of: "brand widget year model [review/photos/instructions]" (not a real example) because Google hasn't got a clue if a search for "brand widget" is looking for a place to buy it, a review of it, a picture of it or how to use it. The webmasters then have to title their pages that same way, or else they don't rank and get mismatched search traffic which is no good for us, Google or visitors. The meta descriptions are either left out entirely or also follow that same distinctive pattern.
So this niche is a whole little ecosystem that's adapted to Google's algo, and the adaptation itself certainly COULD look like gaming... but it's really done for the visitors, because otherwise they're never find what they want through Google. It'll be really interesting to see how this develops over time. So far Google doesn't seem to be penalizing anybody.
But as searchers get more savvy about refining their phrases, there really will be a fuzzy line between "writing pages in a way that overcomes the algo's inability to read searchers' minds" and "writing pages to game the algo." Maybe as long as a lot of searchers and sites are using the same longtail phrases, Google assumes it's not gaming.