For years now the SEO community has been undecided in whether or not to use meta descriptions as part of their SEO efforts. Since 2009 Google has admitted that the meta description is not used within their algorithm to determine rankings but a well crafted description will greatly impact your click through rate and do other great things for your site including:
- It forces Google to highly consider using this as your website snippet instead of just picking content from off your site. Now Google is going to use 160 characters but by having a meta description you can control what is said in that 160 characters.
- Your keywords are bolded in the meta description and you can control this.
- A better description will give you a higher click through rate and longer site visits because they inform the search engine (and the user) of both the site URL and title. Both of which can lead to higher rankings in Google.
- Google recommends them and has lots of great resources on writing them. Seriously, that has to tell you something.
It does seem like Google is ignoring the meta descriptions placed on a page in favor of text they pull themselves from on-page content. In a vast majority of these instances, Google does this when the searched-for-query results in an exact keyword match from on-page content that is not referenced in the meta description.
So if you are working on your own site or a client’s site, there is no way to combat this other than to make sure their most important exact match keywords are represented in their titles and custom meta descriptions. The main point of the meta description snippet in Google results is to entice visitors to click on the link. Thus, having good, well-written meta descriptions that YOU control!