Back in the early days of the internet, all one had to do to get high rankings in the search engines was throw your keywords into your meta keywords tag and you would rank for those key words. Fortunately search engines have come along way.
Although search engines have very complex algorithms that they use to rank websites, meta tags still do serve some purpose in the SEO mix. There are two meta tags that you will hear about: meta keywords and meta description.
Contrary to what many people will tell you, the keywords meta tag is pretty much useless. Search engines stopped looking at them long ago because of the amount of spam people were putting in the tag. The only thing I ever use the keywords tag for is to quickly see all of the key phrases I have optimized a page for. Even then I can mostly accomplish this by looking at the title tag. Conclusion: Don’t waste time on the keywords tag. Use it if you want to but it should be an after thought.
The description tag on the other hand is still very useful. Not only is it the second thing search engines look at when they crawl your page, this is the little blurb that shows up under the title in the search results as in the figure below:
It is very important that you write the description in a way that would entice someone to click on your listing in the search results, while at the same time you need to repeat what is in the title in sentence format.
For example, the description I would write for our dry cleaners example would look something like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Learn how to start a dry cleaning business quickly and easily and own your own dry cleaners franchise today.”>
Notice how I have basically reworded the title that I wrote and made it into a complete sentence. Search engines want to see consistency like this.
IMPORTANT: A description should not be any more that one to two short sentences long.