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How Important are Meta Tags for SEO?

By Aron Allen
SEO Dallas

The web spam master at Google, Matt Cutts, dictates the importance of Meta Description Tag and Keyword Tags and how they impact websites.

Here’s what he says about meta tags:

“Meta tags are a great way for Webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites. They can be used to provide information to all sorts of clients, and each system processes only the meta tags they understand and ignores the rest. They are added to the <head> section of your HTML page.”

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What do meta description tags do for SEO?

Over the last 8 years Google has moved firmly away from interpreting technical on-site issues to interpreting the website’s authority, trustworthiness, and relevancy. Engaging users with quality and descriptive content should be placed on the highest of priorities.

With that said, meta tag optimization has an important role in raising click through rates and conversion numbers. Matt Cutts mentions that with smartly written meta tags, searchers will see your page description in Google and will likely be more pleased with what they find.

But Matt also mentions that if you write about selling apples when in reality you’re selling oranges, Google will likely punish your website heavily.

Does Google rank pages off meta description tags?

A few years ago search engines like Google ranked pages off behind the scenes HTML tags. After realizing that Google users weren’t having the best experience, ranking indicators were changes to looking at other factors.

Now in 2016, search engines have moved completely past this and SEO tests have confirmed that meta tags do not directly impact ranking signals.

How do meta tags support SEO?

Meta tag data is highly useful for describing pages that can be easily readable by search engines and searchers alike. Although search engines do reach meta tags for descriptive purposes, they do not correspond to a page’s rank.

Google will likely look into meta tags for spam as page managers still have the tendency to spam meta tags even in 2016. However, Google will likely put meta data to use to classify pages into a topic or industry or display information about the page in search results.

However, duplicate meta description tags can be very harmful to your website’s SEO, which you can check out in your Google Webmaster panel. When Google finds these duplicate meta description tags, they assume you’re trying to use low-quality attempts to game the system.

Do Meta description Tags completely control what people see in Google?

Most of the time, meta description tags will directly depict how your page is displayed after it is chosen to be shown for a particular keyword.

However, Google and other engines will choose how to display your page to searchers based off what they think is best. The elements they decide to choose are completely dependent on what Google knows about the page based on many different small factors they collect over time.

Key Insights

Meta description tags hold enormous value for increasing click through rates and conversion rates if written properly, but won’t necessarily impact your SEO value in terms of rankings. What truly matters to Google in 2016 is providing the best possible user experience to visitors. If you website isn’t focused around this, you likely will see a slow decline in organic traffic.

Learn more about what we do with SEO here.

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