OK it's been a while since I stirred up a Google thread. ;-) So I preface that all is with great respect.
But really...are you kidding me? I've done tests too. Nonsense words. Front of desc. Back of desc. No desc. Dup desc.
Perhaps it's because I work in some competitive cat's where it's a game of inches. But all I can say is, these things matter.
First of all, anyone optimizing large sites knows that the absence of META Descriptions puts pages at a disadvantage. That's a rankings issue folks. And the same people working on sites like this know that if one creates unique page titles AND meta descriptions on a page-level bases site wide (ya, I know, a lot of work), that it helps pages that are more relevant get a better shot to rank over pages less relevant from the same site. So if I have just two shots from a given site to rank for a query, but I've screwed up and not created unique page level descriptions throughout, the two most relevant pages don't get a chance to compete, then I'm left with two less relevant pages, and those in many cases don't rank as well.
tedster in a recent thread - [webmasterworld.com...]
Sums it up nicely from my POV.
Yes, if the site is humming, and everything is perfect, and PR is beautifully distributed, then this becomes rather muted. And of course MC and others are out there saying "don't obsess".
But if I wanted to tank a site in the rankings, other than messing with their page titles, gimme a shot at their META descriptions. Between NO descriptions, dup descriptions, non-relevant descriptions, spammy descriptions ... let's just say I have a feeling the site owner would not be happy with the negative results I could achieve. :P
Make good META Descriptions. Not too short. Long is better than short, but accurate and varied from the title, while still be descriptive of the overall page, is better still.
If the META Description is filling in holes, adding context, conveying the uniqueness of the page in a sharp, catchy way, then you've got CT's covered, and avoid issues that might otherwise exist.
My 2 cents anyway.
[edited by: tedster at 4:57 pm (utc) on July 11, 2008]
[edit reason] fix link [/edit]