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Through my blog readings, I've noticed some frustrated rantings about how Google is handling 'search snippets' and Meta Descriptions. Depending on what Google is catching from your website, your listing might look something like this schizophrenic result (see above).

Not cool right? Website owners and their SEOs are understandably frustrated when they see META data that they've optimized looking like gibberish. Where does this text come from and can we control it?

Search Snippets Basics

Typical search snippets come from 1 of 3 places.

  1. Meta Descriptions

  2. Content on the web page itself

  3. Open Directory Project Data or ODP (also known as DMOZ)

On the example above, Google is using my query 'intertwingly' and pulling up page content that Google's algorithm things is relevant. Since that copy is really just a fragment, I end up with a strange mashup of onpage copy.

Controlling Search Snippets and META

So...is there anything you can do to control Google and always use your optimized Meta Description? Unfortunately...no. Like much of SEO, though, there are ways to influence Google in the right direction.

  1. Focus Meta Descriptions

    Let's say that, for some reason, we really want this Integraphix blog post to rank for 'Google Meta Description'. One solution is to make sure that this phrase shows up not only in our META, but the matching phrase in the onpage copy. If this is present, Google is more likely to leave the meta description as is. It's also just a good practice, figuring out your target keywords and inputting them naturally into your META description (remember to never keyword stuff, of course) and it will help your overall SEO efforts for that page.

  2. REMOVE duplicate Metas

    Having multiple pages with the exact Title and Meta can lead Google to rank the wrong page or filter that Meta somewhere else. Writing unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions is a sure-fire way to make sure each page is being seen as valuable and relevant in Google's eyes.

  3. Block your DMOZ Listing

    If you think your search description is coming from DMOZ (more common on the home page than internal pages), you can block Google from using your DMOZ listing with a Meta tag robot like this - meta name="robots" content="NOODP" (remember add < > on either side) The problem isn't quite as problematic as it used to be but it can still crop up from time to time.

  4. Block your snippet (CAUTION)

    This tag will remove your snippet COMPLETELY, so use with caution. meta name="robots" content="nosnippet" (remember add < > on either side) It can also effect caching. In general, I would only use this option if Google is taking liberties with snippets that could cause legal problems or harm your brand name. If not, these issues should be dealt with in on-page content.

  5. Ignore it

    Google's attempt to match descriptions to searches don't always work the way we like them to, but they are a good thing. Matching, bold keywords mean click-through traffic as people rarely ready the entire sentence you've labored over. If it's not causing a drop in traffic, don't stress about it.

Chicago Marketing Company

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Integraphix is a Chicago Marketing Company that specializes in Graphic Design, Web Design, Internet Marketing/SEO and Brand Identity Solutions.

www.integraphix.com

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