A client just emailed me. We recently launched their new website. We don’t do SEO (Search Engine Optimistion) work for them at this stage but they are taking an interest in learning about Page Titles and Meta-descriptions themselves atm. The email they just sent me asks, “Why is Google Showing The Wrong Meta Description For My Site?”.
They also sent a screenshot. It showed me that instead of showing the home page meta-description setup in the home page of the site using the Yoast SEO Plugin, Google has been pulling text from the content of the home page itself. I suspect Google is doing this because it may not have re-indexed the home page since the new meta-description was added. Which means, when Google bot finally gets around to re-indexing the home page, it will then see the meta-description has changed and update the records back at Google home base (aka the ‘Google Data Centers’ — aka the BIG buildings, some of which look like warehouses that Google own all over the world – the list of them is here). This then should start to show the new meta-description in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The reason I used the words ‘finally gets around to […]’?
In the case of this particular client’s site, the new site we have created for them has replaced on old outdated site that they had for years. It was an old-school brochure site that had not been content updated nor utilities as a modern business website:
- As in no high value content, resources, tools, articles, etc were being added into it on a regular or semi-regular basis.
Because it was a site where NOTHING changed in it for years. this then would have told the Google bot that this site is a ‘set and forget’ site… which means the Google bot made a note not to bother taking the time (or use resources) to go visit it often. Google bot isn’t lazy mind you, it just uses its time efficiently is all. Why go re-index a site regularly if there is a pattern over the space of months or years that tell it, “this site never changes, I really have NO need to go back to it regularly”. It’s a smart piece of code with certain AI built into it.
Side note: If you’re interested in learning about this stuff but not yet familiar with the concept of ‘training the Google bot’, it’s worth Googling. You’ll find interesting info.
Because the Google bot figures the site is not worth coming back to and re-indexing often, it may be a while before Google bot comes back and re-indexes the NEW website home page and sees the new meta-description.
What can my client do about this?
Here are 2 things they could do:
- They could ask us to setup a Google Search Console account for the website. Google Search Console has a feature allowing you to input a URL for Google to “Fetch”. After submission, Google bot will visit the home page again and re-crawl and re-index it.
- If that does not change the meta-description that Google is displaying in the SERPs, then we could try certain other methods mentioned in this article: How to Get Pages Indexed by Google, Quickly.
Some related reading to do with this topic is here, Google Shows The Wrong Meta Description For My Site.
If you find you are experiencing this problem, I recommend trying the above mentioned activities first, then also reading that blog article.
Some side notes before I wrap up this blog post:
I better get back to client work now, but before I go, here are some side note and general tips:
If you have a WordPress website, and want to try DIYing your ‘on-website SEO’ this is a definitive guide that you can follow https://yoast.com/wordpress-seo/ . There are also some good videos on YouTube. Just make sure they are current and not 1 or more years old. OLD SEO information will not serve you. It will HURT you. Do a Google search for “why does SEO methods change so often” if you want to know more about this topic.
Side note: ‘On-website SEO work’ accounts to less than 30% of what is needed (and involved) in getting good results from SEO efforts.
A large part of SEO work is not what you do on your website, it is about what is done inside and outside of your website to build trust, authority, reputation, popularity and relevancy (and other signals) in the eyes of Google and Bing. This includes useful unique content of high value to your ideal potential buyers, promotion, outreach, backlink profile checks, social success and link-building to name just a few. If you want to know more about ‘off-website SEO’ just Google: “off-site seo [current year]. Be sure you add the current year into your Google search AND only read information that is current. Again, the outdated stuff will hurt you and your business.
Another quick tip: Of all the many, many parts, jobs and activities that have to be done ongoing to help achieve SEO success, here is one that is lesser known: blocking low quality pages from Google. It is mentioned in this article.
If you want to read a 2019 search quality evaluation guide, check this out. It is LOOONG.
Google also has the ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ which you can read here.
Also, SEO IN A BIG WAY is about dreaming up content and marketing ideas to get links and traffic to your site. It’s one of the fun parts of SEO but also sometimes the most challenging if you’re not a marketer and don’t have a MASSIVE understanding of SEO.
My thoughts on DIYing SEO if you’re not an expert:
SEO requires a HEAP of skil-sites. A few of them include:
- Inbound Marketing
- Managing a team and ensuring all work is part of holistic, strategic plan. There must be synergy
- Social media management
- Journalistic skills
- Creative thinking and writing
- Website design
- End-usability knowledge and skill (part of being a professional website designer)
- Website Development
- and many others.
That is why SEO is not ‘a one person can do everything’ activity…. unless you’re a master at all of the above things…. which is rare. SEO usually requires a team.
If you do try on-website SEO yourself, I recommend working with an SEO specialist team who check your work before you add it into your website. I have done this with clients and friends over the years who wanted to give it a go. To begin learning, read the articles I have linked to in this document. Then also read the MOZ beginners guide to SEO.
My thoughts about DIYing Technical SEO and off-site SEO though are this: Unless you have years of skills in the above listed areas, you’re not going to achieve much success… unless you invest HUGE amounts of time I’m talking years). If you do, the place to start is the MOZ SEO Learning Center and some courses on Udemy… plus other resource websites like Search Engine Watch, Backlinko and others.
Anyway, just a few tips. I got to get back to work now 🙂