In particular why Google did not display the meta description that you created or that which was automatically created by a SEO plugin such as “All in One SEO” or Yoast’s “WordPress SEO”. This commonly causes irritation and frustration to many website owners, so I guess there is obviously some confusion or misunderstanding of what Google’s “Snippets” actually represent.
What is a Google Snippet?
A snippet is a term Google uses for the description that appears under the title for a URL that appears in their search engine listing. The contents of the red box in the image below highlights the snippet displayed by Google for the URL https://wordpress.org
This description “Snippet” has no relevance to your Google ranking but is displayed for the benefit of Google search engine visitors so that they can visually read this and decide if your post or page is relevant to them before they click on it.
Where does Google get this description from?
Google will create the snippet, YES, you read that correctly, Google will create the snippet, to try and make it as useful as possible to their visitors when entering a search term. So Google will evaluate your page for the search term and display the information Google thinks is relevant.
- Google can extract the information from the beginning of your article.
- If Google finds the search term within your page it can display information that appears either side of that search term (Keyword) or combine content from different sections of your article.
- Google can obtain the information from the meta description that you or four SEO plugin created.
- For the benefit of people who have been around for a while Google can also obtain data from the Open Directory Project but I do not think that this is so common these days, so for the purpose of this article it will be ignored.
Do you want Google to display your meta description?
To put it bluntly TOUGH! You are out of luck!
Should you create a meta description then if Google can ignore it?
Yes, Google will probably use the meta description if it thinks it is relevant to the search term. However, there are no guarantees.
So to give your meta description the best possible chance of being used consider the following;
- If you are using certain keywords or phrases for targeting your article use the ones found in your article within your meta description i.e. Make sure the information in your meta description reflects the content in your article.
- Use correct sentence structure – not just random phrases and keywords. Google’s algorithm will detect this if you try to trick it.
- The meta description should describe the article/page in a natural, helpful way and not read like an advertisement.
Why doesn’t Google automatically use the meta description?
Google started reviewing their policy several years ago when webmasters started trying to manipulate their search engine listing by filling the meta description up with keywords (keyword stuffing). Frequently this description did not best represent, or sometimes even include the information that related to the article. Therefore, Google was not able to return quality search results to their visitors.
Those of you who have been using search engines for some time will have to admit things have improved from the customer experience side of things over the last few years. Where in the past the results often appeared random at best. On the whole the top SEO plugins perform well but do not take them for granted, check your meta description with the eye’s of a visitor.
Would you trust and click on that link?
If not, CHANGE IT!