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Specifically, I'm wondering about pages that have a purpose that is sort of removed from the main site. For example, a privacy policy page - would you duplicate the description of the main page or is it best left alone?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, all meta descriptions should be unique, because every page is (or should be) unique.

However, not every page really needs a meta description. It's only useful for pages that you want to rank in search results because that's where it is shown. For a privacy policy page, I would simply omit the meta description tag entirely.

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As I mentioned in a similar question, the meta description text is used for more than just search engine results. Perhaps not all pages need it, but any page a user might bookmark should have it IMO. For instance, a user dashboard isn't something you'd want indexed by Google, but a user still might bookmark it. So it's useful to have a meta description that the browser can pull automatically. Also, many screen readers use the meta description to give a summary of a page. –  Lèse majesté Dec 27 '10 at 17:07

Meta Descriptions also affect Click Through Rate (CTR) from the search results so a unique and relevant description can affect traffic for those pages ranked in the search engines

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Meta description is intended to be crawled, and has no direct effects for users. I guess you already know that.

Unless you want a different description for your privacy policy page and similar when these pages appears on google results.

As best practice, I'd recommend to put a simple unique description, but don't spent too much energy on that, because I believe only a few people will really be interested in searching your privacy policy page or similar.

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Some web browsers store the page description as part of their bookmarking functionality. –  Lotus Notes Dec 29 '10 at 18:01

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