Does the excerpt affect SEO?

Let’s say the excerpts are not shown anywhere on the page!
Are they still visible to the search engines or is it totally pointless setting them up?

Thanks.

The excerpt is used to help populate search engine results and how your site appears when shared on social networks like Twitter.

If you don’t explicitly set an excerpt, then Ghost automatically generates one from the first portion of your content.

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I guess that’s a yes, right?
What would the difference to the “Meta data” section be?

Thanks.

Because search engine optimization is such a complex issue (and there are more important factors to consider like the overall quality of your content), I think it’s hard to say one way or another. I just wanted to say what it would affect without a doubt.

The meta section allows you to determine these values apart from your excerpt. For example, let’s say you want a custom excerpt to show up in your theme, but you want to display something different in search engine results or across social networks. The meta section allows you to fine-tune all of these fields.