I’m starting to see a lot more META descriptions and Open Directory (www.dmoz.org) descriptions appearing in Google search results, where in the past you could expect to see a snippet of text content from the listed page.
In some cases, I’m sure this is a good thing, but it can also lead to some really terrible results. Check out the Google search result for “SEO Consulting.”
If you’re seeing the same SERP I am (it’s possible…) you’ll find my site (www.seoresearchlabs.com) at #7, with the ODP description displayed underneath our link. Unfortunately, since the ODP editor couldn’t spell very well, Google is not doing me any favors by showing that description… in fact, the description is misleading because we don’t offer website design. (For reference, the ODP listing reads “Offers search engine marketing, keyword research reportes, website design, marketing training and consutlting.”)
Just above at #6 I see another website (www.increaseranking.com) with their META description displayed in place of a snippet. Which is great news for them, because it’s basically ad copy.
Increase Ranking is not listed in the Open Directory. My site was just recently added, and didn’t have a META description until a few minutes ago.
I’ll follow up in a few days to let everyone know whether the META description takes precedence over the ODP description. If the ODP description takes priority over the site’s content, I will no longer be able to recommend submitting sites to the Open Directory.
As readers of SEO Fast Start and the SitePoint SEM Kit probably know, I’ve questioned the value of a Yahoo directory listing for much the same reason. In the case of Yahoo at least, you can get someone to correct a spelling error.