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If users submit a lot of good quality articles on the site, what is the best way to approach the meta description tag?

I see two options:

  • Have a description box and rely on them to fill it sensibly and in a good quality way
  • Just exclude the meta description

Method 1 is bad initially, but I'm willing to put time in going through and editing/checking all of them on a permanent basis.

Method 2 is employed by the stack exchange site, and lets the search bots extract the best part of the page in the SERP.

Thoughts? Ideas? I'm thinking a badly formed description tag is more damaging than not having one at all at the end of the day.

I don't expect content to ever become unwieldy and too much to manage.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Meta description tag does not affect your rankings so I wouldn't worry about that. But it can affect a user's desire to visit your pages. If you are a good at writing copy and the workload won't be overwhelming, then go ahead and write meta descriptions for each article. If you're not good at writing copy or the workload will be too much, then let the search engines show the snippet they think best fits the query.

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I would generally prefer to have content authors write one more paragraph (or even sentence!) in the body than write a meta description, so I would favor #2. #1 isn't bad if the descriptions are good, but the opportunity cost seems less-than-worthwhile.

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