John Mueller Explains Why Google Rewrites Meta Descriptions

Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst explains why the search engine re-writes meta descriptions.

Recently in a Webmaster Central hangout, a website publisher asked Mueller as to why Google re-wrote the meta description of their homepage on the search results pages (SERPs) for branded search queries. 

The website publisher asked –

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 Mueller responded to the concern saying – 

It’s hard to say without looking at the search results. So that’s kind of the one part.”

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 set up.

Reason One – Poor Meta Descriptions In Web Pages

Muller reveals why Google re-writes meta description tags of some websites – 

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 re-write something else.

Reason Two – Matching Query and Content Triggers Meta Description Re-writes

The “UK” modifier part in the publisher’s question is potentially what is causing Google to re-write the meta description. Google might modify the meta description of your site if its webpages do not send any UK related content signals to the search engine.

Also, the meta descriptions might get re-written if you add modifiers to the search queries. So, it is important to have keyword modifiers in the content written on the page. 

Here what Mueller had to say – 

And most of the time when it tries to re-write something, it’s based on the content on the page itself.

Reason Three – Search Query Influences Meta Description Re-write

Mueller confirms re-writing meta descriptions depends on the search query.

Mueller confirms it –

And the other thing… you noticed, 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?

What is Google Meta Description Re-writing?

Google’s re-writes meta descriptions of sites based on the relationship between its webpage content and the search query. So, if you are facing any concerns related to meta tags getting re-written, then check how the search query relates to the on-page content on your website.

Here is the video – 

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2 thoughts on “John Mueller Explains Why Google Rewrites Meta Descriptions”

  1. Avatar
    Yuvika Sharma

    Sir, I really like your topic, very unique and informative. Thank you sir for sharing this article. Keep sharing.

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John Mueller Explains Why Google Rewrites Meta Descriptions