Do Meta Descriptions Help You Rank Higher in Google?

Jul 9, 2008 • 8:09 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A WebmasterWorld thread has discussion around the META description. There is no doubt that most search engines look and use the META description on some level. Google and Yahoo and Live Search may use it for your search results snippet, the text under your site's listing in the search results (illustrated here). But does that META description actually have an impact on how well your page will rank in Google for a specific keyword phrase?

Most people say no, the META description will have no direct impact on you ranking higher for a keyword phrase. I honestly do not know the actual value in the META description's power to help you rank better.

While there may not be a direct impact in ranking improvements, as g1smd said at the thread, it does "give the appearance of a ranking increase." How so? Well, one thing the meta description will do for you is help ensure you pages don't look like they are all the same page (i.e. supplemental index) when doing a site command search. More on that over here.

Google also recommends using the META description on your pages.

But does it impact your rankings directly? Hard to say.

Google has a whole section in Google Webmaster Tools, under content analysis for "Short meta descriptions." In that section, Google says the "Meta description information can give users a clear idea of your site's content and encourage users to click on your site in the search results pages." Google then links to more information at this page.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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John Honeck

07/09/2008 12:51 pm

After following your link "this page", that page says this, "While accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't impact your ranking within search results." So it would appear to me that Google is saying that they don't impact ranking, then again what Google says and does are not always the same thing.


07/10/2008 03:50 pm

Well not sure if you follow my ramblings, but user behavioral metrics have been very popular with all of the big 3 (cough, cough) for quite some time now. As we well know for AdWords, a quality ad that converts is more valuable; so it isn't a huge reach to think performance/engagement indicators aren't at least weighted to some degree. Marrissa did confirm that query analysis is being used to some degree, one does wonder what other behavioral signals are below this 'tip of the iceberg'

Jaan Kanellis

07/11/2008 07:46 pm

1. If they are duplicated across your website your rankings will suffer 2. If they suck and Google uses them in the snippet your CTR will suffer.

Brian Nettles

07/30/2008 12:42 am

I was watching a video interview last night of Matt Cutts talking about this very topic. Sorry, I dont have the link. No, the meta description is not going to help your rankings. However, it may get used to give your sites description that shows up on Google under your site's title. Also, it may guide users to the site based on keywords found therein that could be used as people type things into Google.

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