Study finds that Google rewrites metadata descriptions more than 70% of the time

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports that a study found Google ignore meta descriptions 70% of the time when pages appear on the first page of search results.

In fact, the study found Google actually rewrites meta descriptions for pages more than 70% of the time, and 30,000 keywords were examined to arrive at that figure. The study focused mainly on page one of organic results and didn't include featured snippets. Results placed 4th to 6th got the most rewrites, and the study's authors said:

"I speculate that since positions 1-3 get the most click-through rate, Google might be trying to boost the relevance for 4-6 to get more clicks before users leave the page or search for something else."
Search volume also affects how often a meta description gets rewritten. The higher the volume, the less likely Google is to interfere. The study's authors speculate that maybe that's because SEO experts give more time to meta descriptions for keywords they know get more searches:

"So why do we see this relationship? I think it's because SEOs tend to focus on writing meta descriptions for head terms more than the long-tail. You're probably not hyper-focusing on the ten searches per month terms, and they probably vary too much to even target with any one description."

Interestingly - and this might infuriate anyone who's repeatedly had to delete and rewrite meta descriptions to fit the limits - Google gives itself more room for description when it rewrites than it does to publishers on desktop. That means between 160 and 167 characters for a rewrite, and just 147 to 149 for us!

So, how can you make the data in this study work for your own SEO efforts? The study's authors recommend keeping meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters for regular pages and 138 to 148 for blog pages. You also get advice to put what you deem most important within the first 100 characters.
#70% #descriptions #finds #google #metadata #rewrites #study #time
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  • "Study finds that Google rewrites metadata descriptions more than 70% of the time" >> they dont rewrite anything. Metadata is simply ignored (apart from the title).

    Why? - Users where constantly lying and trying to game the system so they stopped relying on metadata and focused on "signals" from user engagement to verify if the content is worth promoting.

    The bottom line CTR and User Retention are the kings of growth for time being.

    That "Study" done 3 years ago would yield the same result btw - this is not a new thing, people just keep spreading and recycling old training and tutorials without any research.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
    Excellent Thread. It will make clear Google's policy pertaining to Meta Description Titles for both a website's home page vs. pages. There exists many threads and posts on this forum wherein members ask why their site's Meta Description Title in the SERPs does not match the Meta Description Title.

    Here is an excerpt of a thread I created about Meta Description Titles on 6 October 2019:

    Google's Policies: Duplicate Content Penalty | Mixed Content Penalty (Block) | Meta Description | PoD Ideas

    Meta Description Duplicates

    Create good titles and snippets in Search Results

    Google's generation of page titles and descriptions (or "snippets") is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web. The goal of the snippet and title is to best represent and describe each result and explain how it relates to the user's query

    Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description.

    Differentiate the descriptions for different pages. Identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren't helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we're less likely to display the boilerplate text. Wherever possible, create descriptions that accurately describe the specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and use page-level descriptions everywhere else.

    If you don't have time to create a description for every single page, try to prioritize your content: At the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.

    6 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Meta Descriptions
    Search Engine Journal May 2, 2018

    Even though meta description duplicates won't get you penalized, you should put together unique meta descriptions for every page for practical reasons.

    According to Google:
    Good meta descriptions are short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page. They are like a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they're looking for.

    Since meta descriptions act as "a pitch" in the SERPs, you can use them to control the narrative around your site. The better you deliver your message with unique copy, the better chance you have of driving more traffic to your pages and increasing CTR.

    Google's Matt Cutts

    Is it necessary for every page to have a meta description? November 18, 2013

    Though Matt Cutt's video is dated 2013 it all stands to this date.

    The main take-aways are:
    1. Meta Description Duplicates are not penalized. However, duplicates may be blocked.
    2. Google will create a snippet for pages without a meta description and the snippet may not be exactly what you want it to be when displayed in the SERPs.
    3. Google Search Console indicates pages without meta descriptions.
    4. Meta Descriptions better the chance you have of driving more traffic to your pages and increasing Click Through Rate (CTR).

    Most tools to help us with all of the above are located in Google Console and many very good ones are in the listed articles.

    If you made it this far..

    Hope it Helps and Have a Great Day
    In the minute it took me to write this post.. someone died of Covid 19. RIP.
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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    I do not think the meta description stil counts. Google is changing tact everyday but I amsure he will rely on user engagement for some time.
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