A friend just told me her web designer advised her not to bother with writing meta tags and descriptions for her blog because Google doesn’t consider these in your search rankings. That’s true.
But I think it’s a big mistake to ignore them and I say this from experience because I did for a long time. Then I started using meta tags and showed up in more searches with greater click-throughs to my site.
If you write a punchy headline and a compelling description of the blog, that’s most likely what will show up in the “snippet” that Google uses in the search description. A snippet is basically the little piece of copy next to each search. Google doesn’t necessarily have to use your copy. But it will if its mysterious algorithms determine your copy provides a better description than the search engine can by crawling and picking out words in your content.
For example, I showed up on page one in Google with this snippet that I wrote in my meta tag description:
Mar 23, 2011 … You’ve got to put your personality into a blog. Visitors want to know what you stand for and your honest opinions about things – both good …
In summary, meta tags will not increase your search rankings. That’s direct from Google. But also from the mouth of Google: a well-written “snippet” from your meta tag description is likely to increase click-throughs to your site. And isn’t that we want?