Study: META Descriptions Very Important Search Results Click Through Rates

Aug 25, 2010 • 8:29 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine translated a new eye tracking study done Spanish (PDF here) of how searchers look at the search results on a search results page.

Here is the break down of the study, but before you look at it, let me define a "fixation" in terms of eye tracking studies. As per Wikipedia, a Fixation online eye tracking refers to the test subject fixing on a particular portion of the page. It is used to determine which areas of a web page receive the most views. This is used to adjust where content resides on a web page to maximize its exposure.

SERPs fixations

The one thing that really stands out to many SEOs is the META description, or the search engine snippet. In all types of queries, the meta description is fixated over more and more time is spent looking at it. More than the big blue hyper link and more than the URL.

search result explained

Above is an explanation of the various parts of a typical search result. I would think the primary influencer for a click on a search result would be the title, not the snippet. But I guess people actually read those snippets, which can be pulled from your META description tag or dynamically curated by Google.

Much more on the study at

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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08/26/2010 10:42 am

Thanks for this, the description tag is too often overlooked, so it's nice to see someone giving it some attention!


08/26/2010 10:56 am

A meta description should always be carefully written to encourage click throughs. It is still an important element of a web page.


08/26/2010 02:17 pm

I've seen some pretty poor meta descriptions out there where people try to cram as many keywords in as possible (forgetting their target audience will be reading). From a buyer's point of view, I would say the most successful meta descriptions are the honest, concise and inviting ones - not ones that include the keyword every two words. For example - I just did a random search for 'dog food' (told you it was random!) and the second result's meta description is this: "Feeding your pet from our Nutrition Centre range of cat food and dog food will give them a longer, healthier life" That's probably going to be quite successful because it gives the buyer the feeling they are doing something to prolong the life of their pet - it's not 'salesy' or pushy in any way... it's just honest and to the point. You don't want to feed your pet cheap tripe, you want the best for them and you want them to live for as long as possible - and I think this description captures that. Concluding, it is nice to see more attention being paid to the meta elements! As Andy said, they are often overlooked! They are very important as they give your potential buyer an insight about your site.

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