Have you been finding that your meta descriptions are not what you expected? If so, they might have been rewritten by Google’s algorithm. But what causes algorithms to edit meta descriptions, and how do we optimise our descriptions for the best SEO benefits? We break down and explain two main reasons why this could be happening below.
When it comes to creating meta descriptions, keep SEO best practices in mind and choose your words wisely. Google focuses less on the keywords used and more on what the content is actually saying. This means that content that doesn’t look that helpful or includes a lot of irrelevant keywords are both likely to be edited.
Other reasons why meta descriptions might be rewritten is because it’s too long (over 160 characters), or that the meta description doesn’t actually exist at all. Your meta description needs to be created with the appropriate HTML codes with the following format:
<meta name=”description” content=”Insert meta description text here.”>
The second reason your meta description might have been edited is because of the search terms people have used to find your site. Depending on the search modifiers (such as adding “NZ” or “Homepage” at the end of a keyword), search queries can have a lot of influence over the wording of meta descriptions.
Queries have this influence because the search algorithm optimises the part of your copy that it thinks is most useful and relevant to the query. That is, if the original meta doesn’t fulfil user’s search intent, or if the page itself isn’t sending relevant content signals to match the meta description, Google will show a different meta description to the one you have set.
If your copy meets either of these conditions, you might find your meta description edited by Google to make it fit.
Whether Google rewrites your meta descriptions or not depends on the content available on your website and the queries used by viewers.
To make this concept clearer, let’s look at an example. Compare the results of the search query “Countdown” with the query “Countdown Homepage”:
The first search for “Countdown” shows us the original meta created by Countdown, however, the second search results for “Countdown Homepage” show us something different.
As we can see, Google’s algorithm has edited the meta to match it to the term “Homepage”. However, the search term “Homepage” doesn’t exist in the meta description or on Countdown’s home page. Therefore, Google has ended up improvising and grabbing the most relevant information on the page it could find in its attempt to create a more appropriate result to answer a user’s query.
However, despite Google’s attempts, we can see that it hasn’t done a very good job. What we see above is a vague and unrelated meta description.
The simple answer is yes.
A meta description is a very important and visible part of search marketing because it draws viewers directly to the website from the SERPs. In other words, it urges them to click. They also make a big difference in how viewers see and understand your website.
So, if you’re finding that your meta descriptions are being edited by Google, here’s what you can do. Look further into how the search queries relate to the content on the page and if the meta description has the tags to link the two.
The main thing to make sure of is that the normal brand query shows the correct meta. You should double-check to make sure the description is written to be concise, clear, and useful, and that the meta also contains the correct keywords.
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