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This Web site has approximately 90 watercolor images, with each image/painting on its own page displaying a name, media type and size above it with no other language on the page.

Although I have provided a meta description for the Home, Collection, Bio, Q&A and Contact pages located in the navigation menu, should I bother to write a description for each of the individual image pages? If so, how should that language be written: would I simply describe each of the paintings in terms of shape(s), color(s), etc.?

I have done exactly that for the alt text fields for each painting. Should I just repeat that same language in the meta description field? Any light you can shed on this would be much appreciated.

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3 Answers 3

Meta descriptions serve two purposes in my opinion:

  1. They "somewhat/indirectly" help with SEO. Google algorithm does not use Meta Description as one of its ranking factors. However, by providing better user experience (see point #2) you have a much better chance of getting social, referral traffic as well as improving your link profile.

  2. They help with click through rate and provide better user experience.

The latter is probably going to be more beneficial in your case.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. If you were looking for a specific type of painting, what keywords would you use to search for it?
  2. If you were looking at the search results for that keyword, what description would entice you to click on one page vs. another?
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The problem is that the description meta-tag does not help with search. Any keywords in the description do not rank. They have CTR value only. –  closetnoc May 23 at 0:10
    
If you read my statement carefully you will notice that I didn't not say that is helps with search directly. Google does not include meta description in its algorithm. –  dasickle May 23 at 2:13
    
However,providing better UX and achieving greater CRT will lead to better search indirectly by many other contributing factors. Social, referral traffic and better link profile just to name a few. –  dasickle May 23 at 2:18
    
I gotcha. When I read this, it seemed to be indicating that there is an SEO effect other than (CRT/UX). –  closetnoc May 23 at 2:29
    
Thanks for your feedback. I should have been clearer. I edited my answer a bit. –  dasickle May 23 at 12:23
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I treat the meta description as marketing that is designed to explain to the user why they would want to visit the page. It should also have a "call to action" that tells the user what to do once they get to the page. I might use language like this on such a page:

Title: Watercolor: "Roses of Europe" by Robert Toonsmithens - GreatPaintings.com

Meta Description: View this original watercolor scene, the latest work of Mr Toonsmithens, that uses subtle yellows and reds to convey a feeling of sunset.

Image alt text: A composite view of several European cities. Each city has red an yellow roses decorating the balconies and is depicted at sunset.

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Very precise and concise answer. –  closetnoc May 23 at 0:13
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While the alt text of an image link is important, they are dwarfed by the importance of content, title tags, description meta-tags, and header tags.

It is not clear if your question is SEO related or just good practice, but I think both go hand in hand.

Of course you have decide the look and feel of your site, but I recommend that you do not forget the basics which goes directly to answering your question. So here goes.

You know the SERPs are comprised of a link and content snippet. These come from the title tag and description meta-tag respectively under well tune circumstances. As well, the first (and only) h1 tag should be an extension and alternative to the title tag and never a direct copy.

In fact, it is wise not to make any element a direct copy of another or too close otherwise. Similar and complimentary yes, copy no.

For the title tag, make it succinct and compelling and no more 55 characters and not so short that Google makes up a title. This is a click-through opportunity. In your case, it can be the painting title and artist name as a suggestion. You decide what is important. Just remember that your goal is for the title tag to become the link in the SERPs.

For the description meta-tag, make it compelling and no more than 150 characters. Make it stand out. This is a click-through opportunity. Between the title tag and the description meta-tag, you want to engage your potential user better than anyone.

I always suggest always using an h1 tag. This can be simple, but make sure it is keyword laden where as the title tag for CTR, the h1 tag is not. In your case, it can be the painting title and artist name expanded with some other important keywords such as impressionist, scenic, etc. You decide.

I always suggest having content. It does not have to be much, but the more the merrier. If all you can muster is a paragraph, that is fine. Just be somewhat verbose if that is not your nature. But make sure you have it. Give the search engines something to chew on.

Image alt text should be succinct as well. It should be somewhere between your description meta-tag and h1 tag. Keep in mind that the image alt text is indexed and weighted, but not as much as the other elements above.

Here is the rub. If you are looking for image search primarily, then this should do well to support your image. Google at least, and likely Bing too, look for as many clues as possible as to what the image is. The image alt text is not enough. If you are looking for traditional search, then this formula will work too. You will need to track your performance and adjust your various tags use of keywords to attract the right user. But the formula is spot on for both. Remember that text search supports image search. What my point is, make sure that you give the search engines enough of something that they will want to return your page in the SERPs. If a page does well in traditional search, it will also do well in image search. Search engines need something to chew on or they will ignore your site/pages. They also need as many clues as you can give them to know how to return results in image searches and the image alt text is not enough to do that.

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