Missing 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 missing meta description check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag) within this part of reporting.
Missing Meta Description Pages
Any canonical page that does not have a meta description present within the <head> section of the HTML source code is defined as ‘missing a meta description’. All canonical pages should have a unique meta description present 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 missing 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 a Missing Meta Description?
A missing meta description is where a canonical page does not have a meta description tag present in the correct part of the source code (the <head> section).
This component of a webpage is often overlooked and so it is possible to have a lot of pages with missing meta descriptions. This is one of the more common errors and one of the easiest to fix in terms of both technical know-how and effort required.
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 auditing tool crawls every page and looks for the meta description tag if it cannot find this tag, the page is determined to be missing a meta description.
If a meta description tag is present on a page but contains no text, this would be defined as an ‘empty meta description’ not a missing meta description.
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.
As mentioned previously, these checks are performed exclusively on canonical pages, so if a meta description is missing from a non-canonical page this would not be flagged as an error here. You will be able to see all missing 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 missing 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 missing meta descriptions to a client
- Count & evaluate SEO issues on a website