The use of descriptive meta tags is often required by search engines. I believe if you are going to insert meta tags into your page code then they have to be full monty, no half measures. If you own the website and all is above board then why hide critical information that the search engine can utilize to enhance your site’s performance at the search engine rankings board.
What I do know is this. At some point, Google got really tired of people using the keywords meta tag to spam their search results, and they all but eradicated its use. There was a time even rather recently (comparatively speaking) that they had an impact on Yahoo!, but those days are gone as well; what with Yahoo! being powered by Bing now.
In many results, the Meta description will appear on the results page right under the title. The only caveat to remember is that your META description will only show if the search term is in the META description. Try to keep the title brief so it is not cut off in the results, it is best practice if you keep the description under 200 characters. Your description contains your important key phrase and keywords. Place your description in the opening paragraph, if you do this the description is weighted heavier by search engines. Sometimes even Google picks up description tags. Make sure that the title and description are crafted neatly and attract both visitors and search engines.
Google isn’t the only fish in the pond, of course, there are many other major SE’s. Most of them will use meta tags in some way but won’t allow them to have much significance in the search ranking. For this fact alone it will not hurt to have an acceptable list of keywords in your meta tag as a backup precaution. But with all of this being said if you wanted to leave them out completely, go for it. There are several other SEO techniques that are incomparably more important that should be given more attention.
Meta Keywords and meta description tags used to be considered by search engines as part of the ranking criteria. It is this fact that has caused much of the current controversy. I believe it was around 2004 when these were dropped from the ranking algorithm criterion.
Write your website copy with your visitors in mind. Sprinkle keywords throughout it with links that take people to other pages of your website. Make sure all of your pages have titles. Add new relevant content over time – articles or blogs are very effective. If you follow these simple steps, you will see your rankings improving and your visitors sticking around to read your great content. More qualified, happy visitors means more sales and more revenue for your business.