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Why You Need “Google Brain” to Understand Meta Descriptions

Why You Need “Google Brain” to Understand Meta Descriptions

Writing your own Meta Descriptions counts, but it doesn’t count for everything. Here’s why.

Meta Descriptions are a useful tool for establishing what will display in the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). But what’s the best way to write them, and how much control over the display do you really have?

The standard practice is to write a “common” Meta Description for a site that will automatically be added to every page. From there, you can go in and write custom descriptions for key pages. You’d think that if you didn’t write custom descriptions for individual pages, Google would show the same description for each page. That would make sense – but it’s not always what happens.

Google decides whether it will use the Meta Description you suggest … or not.

While Google will recognize your common site-wide descriptions, it will often pull text from the page instead. And only Google knows exactly why.

Here’s an example from our client work.

The Meta Description below is the same on all of this site’s pages (the site Meta):

<meta name="description" content="Our fluid handling products and technologies 
are used to control the flow of fluids in process industries worldwide.
We play an integral role in enhancing process efficiency, optimizing energy
utilization, and maximizing productivity to positively affect the use and
preservation of our earth’s natural resources." />

But now look at the actual SERP:

Kadant SERP

Such real-world-web results raise questions about what Google’s thinking. If you use a common description for the entire site, will Google pull copy from each page and display it? On the other hand, if you create custom Meta Descriptions for each key page, will Google display those instead?

Embracing the unknown in the name of UX.

The answer lies somewhere in Google’s purported mind-reading. Google engineers say their algorithms help users by deciding what to display based on what a user is truly seeking. In a similar way, Google won’t count a blog post that shows up in more than one category as “duplicate content” – it understands how websites are built.

Google says it values what the user wants over what the site wants the user to want.

It’s fascinating, really, how Google claims it can set up algorithms to better understand – or interpret – what’s in the mind of the user. It’s all data-related. Which is a result of real behavior.

It’s important to not only understand the reasoning for this on Google’s end, but also to understand a web developer’s level of control over search results. Which is another reason why at NK, we say Content is Queen, and we walk the talk. Always speaking to what human buyers really want.

One thing we certainly have in common with Google is a mission to enhance the UX.

Posted in: Thoughts
Tags: marketing, web
April 02, 2021

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