Why use meta tags
The combination of keywords and description meta tags is that most commonly supported by search engines. Although some search engines don't support meta tags, the majority of the major search engines do support both keywords and descriptions and virtually all respect the robots noindex meta tag.
As mentioned above, the main reason for using meta tags is that the information they contain is given the most weight by search engines when indexing your pages. This information is independent of the content that appears on the web page. You can use meta data to counter the bias some less important pages receive when the location and frequency of certain words means that they are listed above your homepage.
The description meta tag contents will help the user decide which result link to click as it provides a summary of the page. Without the description information, if you have the same information appearing first on every page, the user won't get any additional information to help in deciding which matched page is actually the one sought.
Here's how the meta data on the LSE homepage appears in the results page of the School's search engine:
The search engine has ranked the page top of the list for a quick search on 'lse' - the page has received five-stars on the basis of the keywords and description meta tags.
The link to the LSE homepage uses the title of the page but the line of text beneath is the contents of the description meta tag, not the first words on the page.
To the user, the result of the search has been a success - the query 'lse' returned the School's homepage top of the list thanks to the meta tags. If the second matched page also displayed the title 'London School of Economics and Political Science', the description shows that the top match is the LSE homepage.
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