Question: We found a competitor who’s meta description appears to change on the Google hit page depending on what key words we type in. “sustainable landscape company san diego” yields Letz Designs home page with one summary, and “sustainable design San Diego” yields his home page with a different summary showing. How would you explain that both summaries/descriptions seem attached to his home page?
Answer: Remember that the META DESCRIPTION is only a SUGGESTION to Google, not a certainty that they will use it. What happens is essentially this. First, Google looks at the searh query, in this case ‘Sustainable Landscape Design San Diego,’ then it looks at the META DESCRIPTION. IF the Meta Description contains all or most of the keywords it is VERY likely to use it as the summary on the results page. If not, it will select OTHER visible text on the page and use that instead; sometimes it will even truncate and mix / match text.
So what is probably happening is that the slight variation in the search phrase is causing Google to pull different text. Do a VIEW SOURCE on their page and see what their real META DESCRIPTION is. They might not even have one. Technically, however, the HTML rule is one per page, so my hunch is that this is what is happening: Google is rejecting their META DESCRIPTION for other, ‘better’ text on one or both of these searches.
For you, the SEO rule of thumb is make sure that each and every page on your site has a unique, accurate and short (< 155 character) META DESCRIPTION that is both keyword heavy and has some advertising zing to it as you are trying not to just get to the top of Google for SEO, but to get the click as well.
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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