John Mueller recently offered suggestions to help ensure that the meta description you use is what will be provided on the search results. These suggestions were given through a Google Webmaster Central hangout after a question by Vahan Petrosyan from Search Engine Journal. Vahan asked for a way of preventing Google from rewriting a meta description of a web page.
Indeed, Google does not always use the meta description we provide, and Mueller went into reasons why. He then discussed a few things that site owners can do and lead Google into using the intended meta descriptions.
Why Google rewrites Meta Descriptions?
It is common for Google to generate a meta description instead of using the ones provided by a web page. Mueller listed a few reasons why this might happen:
- The same meta description is provided across many pages.
- The meta description is not useful or relevant. For example, it is just a collection of keywords
- The meta description does not match what your users are looking for, but other content on the web page matches.
Generally, google rewrites a meta description to help users understand why a certain page is relevant to them and what they searched for. The site owner can’t get Google to use the meta description they provide 100% of the time.
However, there are three things you can do to help Google display your intended meta description more often.
How to get Google to use your intended Meta Description?
There is a high chance of getting Google to use your meta if your descriptions meet the following criteria:
- They are short enough such that, they can fit in the search results snippet.
- You have unique meta descriptions written for each page.
- They match what most users are generally looking for when going to a particular page.
However, keep it in mind that even if the criteria is met, Google may still display a different meta description. For example, if a user enters a question and the answer to it matches a specific snippet of a text from the web page, Google will most probably override your meta description with that specific snippet.
If you want the exact meta description to be shown for a specific question, then ensure that it is as relevant to that question as possible. If you do that, the chances of having your meta description displayed as you want increases drastically.