Finally, Google explains a detailed reason why Google’s algorithm rewrites the meta descriptions. John Mueller explains it all, in a Webmaster Central hangout, when a publisher asked him why their meta description was being rewritten.
The question was mainly about the Home Page’s meta description that was rewritten on the SPERs for branded search queries. The publisher used the example of using the modifier “UK” with the brand name.
Since there are no specifics mentioned in the question, there is no way to address the publisher’s issue directly. Muller answered on a general tone, which gave some insight into why Google rewrites meta description.
The publisher’s question was as follows –
“We have an issue with the meta description that is being displayed for our home page.
So, even though we have a meta description that is being implemented on that particular page, somehow in Google when our website appears, the meta description is completely different.
And in some cases, if we search for our company name plus the word “UK,” the meta description makes no sense whatsoever. It’s just a bunch of words put together from various parts of the page.
I know sometimes Google goes hunting for various things on the page if it cannot find relevant content for that particular region.
So, I guess my question is, because we have a lot of traffic that is coming up from branded searches… it is important for us to have the correct meta description showing up. What do we do to rectify the situation?”
John Muller explains it well:
Before going into the insight of why Google rewrites meta descriptions, John Mueller stated that since he has not seen the publisher’s specific search results, it would be difficult for him to say what is happening. Then he went into a general discussion about why Google rewrites meta descriptions.
In Mueller’s word –
“It’s hard to say without looking at the search results. So that’s kind of the one part.”
While explaining the reasons that make Google rewrite meta description, he added,
“Usually what happens is we need to have the description meta tag on the page. That’s kind of the first step. It sounds like you already have that setup.”
- Reason 1
Poor use of Meta Description:
The very first reason that makes Google algorithm to rewrite the meta description is the poor meta description. According to Mueller, sometimes the meta description is re-written because it focuses more on keywords and less on what the page is about. Therefore, it does not look that useful for users.
In Mueller’s explanation, he added –
“The other thing there is that we need to be able to, I guess, trust the meta description on the page so that it looks kind of reasonable. In particular, sometimes when we see a bunch of keywords that are just kind of collected in the meta description. Then that’s something that our systems might look at and say well, this doesn’t look that useful for users. So they’ll try to rewrite something else.”
- Reason 2
Content and query matching can trigger the Meta Description Rewrite:
In the publisher’s query, he said that the meta description was rewritten with the location “UK”. That UK search query modifier may be what is causing Google to rewrite the meta description.
If you add modifiers to search queries, it can cause Google to rewrite the meta descriptions and title tags. Google rewrites this only when the keyword modifiers (like Home Page or ‘UK’) don’t exist in the written content of the page.
In Mueller’s word –
“And most of the time when it tries to rewrite something, it’s based on the content on the page itself.”
- Reason 3
Search Query Influence Meta Description Rewrite:
As it has already been said that meta description rewriting depends on the search query. Read on to learn how-
John Mueller explained it so nicely. According to some, the Google meta description rewriting process is arbitrary. However, it is not. Google algorithm rewrites meta description depending on the relationship between the web page content and the search query.
If you don’t want Google rewriting the meta tags, you can simply observe how the search query relates to the on-page content.
John has rightly explained it –
And the other thing you noticed, is the description can vary depending on the query that is used. So the first thing that I would do is just take the normal branded query that you use and double-check that the description that you provide in the meta description is actually pretty useful and not too spammy or overdone. And then go from there, essentially, to figure out is this something where Google always gets it wrong? Or is it something where sometimes Google’s algorithms pick up something else on the page and get it wrong?”
Google is always trying to be more user-friendly, and meta description rewriting is another way to show that. However, it is also helpful for businesses since they become more relevant to the users in the search results.