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You hear it every day. Some SEO says you have to write a keyword-based meta description to make sure the search engines use your content in the SERPs and not their own. OK, here’s the truth: You don’t need a meta description and you never did.

You first need to understand what the meta description is for.

Its purpose is to get the searcher to click on a search result and visit the page. Therefore, it needs to have a strong call to action. But does it need a keyword in it to be successful?

Yes. And no.

Understand that Google sometimes uses the meta description and sometimes not. Your web page could be returned for any number of search terms. You might target one search term and do it well enough to rank No. 1 for that search term. Good for you. But there will also be other search queries your page could rank for. A web page could rank for 500 or more search queries on any given day. Google will NOT use your meta description for every single one of those search queries.

Google will take text from a page itself to use as meta description based on the search query at that moment. It’s a split second decision. If your meta description best suits the SERP result, it will be used; otherwise, Google will use on-page text.

So when then do you need a meta description? Why not let Google choose the SERP snippet for every query?

SEOs fall on every side of this issue. Some say write a keyword-rich meta description every time. Some say don’t do it at all. Others say do it sometimes and sometimes not. I say you have to pick your path and do what is right for each page of your website.

Most times, a keyword-based meta description with a call to action targeting your primary keyword is a good thing as long as you understand that other search queries may have a different search snippet taken from your page. You can’t control every variable. Don’t try.

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