Only one SE looks at ‘Meta Description’ for indexing/ranking

Filed in SEO by Matt McGee on January 8, 2007 5 Comments

… and that search engine is Yahoo!.

This is a small discovery based on a test I did here on the blog back in November, and have just now remembered to follow-up on it. I put a silly 3-word phrase in the “meta name=description” tag of one of my blog posts. In searching for that phrase on the four main engines, the search comes up empty in Google, MSN, and Ask. It gets returned in Yahoo. The post is indexed by all four engines.

If you’re curious to see the test, you’ll have to follow along, because I’m not going to type the phrase I used in this post — as soon as I do that, this post will rank for the phrase and the test gets killed. So….

1) Go back to this post and do a View Source to see the 3-word phrase in the description tag.

2) Go to each search engine and do a search for that phrase, in quotes for exact match.

You’ll see what I see, which is that Yahoo is the only engine to return a listing. This means that the other three don’t even look at the description tag for the purposes of matching or ranking a page. I know they look at it for the purpose of displaying a snippet, so don’t call me out on that in the comments. I’m not saying Meta Description is useless, okay? It’s very important to help get the words you want showing in the snippet; I understand that.

What I’m saying this simple test shows is that putting a keyword in the Meta Description won’t help a page get found (matched) for that keyword, nor will it help it rank better for that keyword. So, no need to repeat your keyword 3-4 times in the Meta Description assuming it will improve your rankings.

My gut instinct is that Yahoo is looking at the Meta Description strictly for matching a page to a keyword, not for ranking purposes. (This is exactly how they use the Meta Keywords tag.) But my test doesn’t prove that one way or another….

[tags]seo, yahoo, meta tags, meta description[/tags]

Comments (5)

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  1. Andy Benkert says:

    Cool test, Matt. Thanks for sharing it. And congrats on placing for the “Best Local Search Blog” in the Search Engine Journal blog awards!!! The time you spend sharing your knowledge and expertise is very much appreciated.

  2. Matt McGee says:

    I was very pleased just to be on the list for that SEJ awards thing, Andy. To come in 3rd was very cool. Thx for all the kind words, and for not calling me out about the Description tag. 🙂

  3. nuevojefe says:

    Nice find. Seems of late it can factor into things with Google in terms of supplementals.

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