Empty Meta Descriptions | Canonical Pages
In this guide we describe what this meta description is, what the check is, how it works, and we provide context as to why this SEO check is performed. The empty meta description check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag) within this part of reporting.
Empty Meta Description Pages
All canonical pages that have a meta description tag, present in the <head> section of the source code, that contains no text are defined as “empty meta description pages”. The code will look like this on pages with this error:
<meta name="description" content="">
Every canonical page should contain a unique and optimised meta description within in the <head> section of the source code.
What is a Meta Description?
A meta description is a tag containing text that exists in the source code of a page and is only visible or used in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Meta descriptions encourage users to click on your organic listings and as such are a powerful indirect ranking factor. This makes them very useful for SEO, which means they should be optimised.
The meta description including the HTML tags (of our homepage) sits in the <head> section of the source code and looks like this:
<meta name="description" content="Raptor - Digital Marketing Tools. Advanced Web Crawler now available, sign up for a free trial and get 5,000 URLs free! Sign Up Today!">
What is a Canonical Page?
A canonical page is a webpage that has a self-referential canonical tag present on it. A canonical tag advises Google as to the preferred / original version of content. If a page / piece of content is accessible from multiple URLs or is empty across multiple pages, a canonical tag helps to define the ‘canonical’ version.
A canonical tag contains a URL and if that URL matches the URL of the page being accessed, it is defined as a canonical page. Canonical pages are typically the ‘SEO’ pages of a site as they are most likely to appear in the search results. The canonical tag of our homepage looks like this in HTML:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://raptor-dmt.com/">
What is an Empty Meta Description?
An empty meta description is where a canonical page has a meta description tag correctly implemented within the HTML, but the tag is empty / contains no text.
This SEO component is often overlooked making it is possible to have lots of webpages with empty meta description tags. This is a very common error and like all errors in this category, very easy to fix. You need very little technical knowledge and the time required to fix one page is very low.
Learn more about meta descriptions and how to optimise them to help improve the organic visibility of any website.
What Do We Check & How?
Our SEO audit tool will crawl a site’s webpage and scrapes the contents of the meta description tag if it present. Where the tag contains no text or just ‘spaces’ or ‘returns’ we determine the page to have an empty meta description.
The page needs to be canonical and the meta description tag needs to be correctly implemented in the source code for it to have this issue.
We present the data for this in the reporting tabs and SEO audit charts. The raw data is also available to download from the export tab in reporting, where you can get both CSV and XLXS files for any project or site.
Because these checks are performed exclusively on canonical pages, if an empty meta description is found on a non-canonical page it would not be flagged as an error here. You will be able to see all empty meta description sets under the ‘meta description’ category in the SEO Errors report.
What should you do with this data?
You can use our software to identify empty meta descriptions across your site and you can use that data to:
- Write new meta descriptions for affected pages
- Improve the organic visibility of the affected pages
- Provide the list of empty meta description pages to a client
- Count & review SEO issues on a website