The public face of Google Search is a guy called Matt Cutts, who I once flew halfway around the world to see in order to ask if he’d personally investigate why one of my websites had been penalised in the search results. (If he did, nothing came of it). When Matt gives away some information about how Google search works – and he does quite often – then we should all listen.
Last week he addressed this: “Is it necessary for each single page within my website to have a unique meta tag description?” …which is “a great question”, he says. Most of us have already worked out the answer to this, and I’ve discussed it here before, but here’s the definitive answer, in a video:
You should either have a unique description meta tag for each page, or none at all. Just don’t have the same one on every page on your site.
The description meta tag is important, because it’s likely to be used in the Google results under the title. It will be seen by thousands of people. Unfortunately, I think I see sites with the same description meta tag for every page almost as often as I see the two preferred alternatives. The web design companies who implemented this should be ashamed of themselves.
Writing an individual description meta tag for every page on your site can be an impossibly large task for many companies. But what Matt Cutts is saying is that it’s unnecessary, as the auto-generated one created by Google can be fine. Just write good ones for the important pages, or whenever you spot a poorly-written auto-generated one. That’s what’s important. And it’s very important, in my opinion.
(If you’re a client of ours and would like a “crawl” of your website, showing all the pages and their description meta tags in a spreadsheet, just ask.)