What you need to know about meta descriptions


Two things probably come to mind when you read meta tags: a page description and keyword tags. These two things are certainly crucial, but they aren’t the only meta tags that exist. But just because they exist doesn’t mean that you have to use them. The truth is that a lot of websites misuse meta tags. Some don’t use them enough, whereas others use them too much. It’s a balancing act, too few meta tags and you don’t give Google enough information, too many and you risk sabotaging your website’s ability to rank.


So you don’t get confused, here is the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to meta tags.


The good

There are three meta tags that you shouldn’t go without. These are:


Title tag. Every page should have a unique title tag that includes the page’s keywords. The title tag tells Google and other users what your page is about.


Meta description. Meta descriptions are incredibly important for catching the attention of people using Google and encouraging them to click on your website’s link rather than all of the other links on the results page. Short and sweet is the name of the game, they should be 160 characters or less.


Viewport. If you have designed your page with mobile devices in mind, you will need to specify a viewport size so that Google knows how it should fit on a screen.


The bad

Your website probably doesn’t need the following meta tags. If you have the following, consider removing them.


Robots. The Robots meta tag tells Google not to crawl this specific web page. In most cases, you want Google to crawl your site so there’s no need to use it.


Social meta tags. There are several social meta tags that can change the way your page looks on Twitter or Facebook. Again, there’s no real need for most web pages to use these. Only experts should be adding these tags.

Site verification. You need this tag to get your website verified by Google webmasters, but you don’t need to have it after this. Delete it.


The ugly

Don’t use these tags. Period.


Expiration dates. There’s no sense putting an expiration date on a page. If you have no use for it, just take it down. Even if it’s a limited offer, just take the page down when it ends.


Author. This used to be a big thing, but the author tag isn’t used anymore. There’s no real need to include it.


Revisit after. This is a very obscure tag that tells Google bots to return to the page after a specific timeframe. Crawling bots regularly recrawl websites so there’s no need to tell it to in the page’s code.


Now you know the good, bad and ugly of meta descriptions. Go and use them wisely or seek further advice from the experts.