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Automaticcally Generated Meta Descriptions Vs Using Page Content


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17 replies to this topic

#1 shimlad

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:06 AM

Hi Guys,

I am developing new pages on my website which is a very large database driven site. Far too big to manually write unique Meta description tags for every page.

So here is the question...

On the site there will be hundreds of "Area" pages for all the towns featured so for each of these pages I could write some rules for the meta description for example:

"Tourist information for [town] in the [region], find out whats on and what to do in [Town] during your holiday and dont forget to check the latest [Town] weather" etc. etc.

Obviously each of the towns will have similar meta descriptions except the key words which will be substituted for each town.

so is it better to write the descriptions like this...

or

using the say the first couple of sentences from each page?

This is unique content and would consist of something like:

“Less than 200 years ago, Bakewell presented a completely different picture with narrow streets and timber framed properties, many of which had thatched roofs. The modern layout of the town only came about in the 19th century.

Modern Bakewell has something for everyone, and everything for someone, from its many historic buildings and its wonderful riverside walks along the banks of the Wye, to its award-winning newly designed and recently revamped town centre with shopping arcades and numerous emporiums of excellence.”

I could set the meta description to take the first x number of characters from the text, that way each page would have unique meta descriptions but it would be the same text that is being used on the page already.

Which is the better method to use?



#2 SelfMade

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:15 AM

QUOTE(shimlad @ Jan 18 2010, 12:06 PM) View Post
I could set the meta description to take the first x number of characters from the text, that way each page would have unique meta descriptions but it would be the same text that is being used on the page already.

Which is the better method to use?

Where no description is declared, G take snippets by default...your problem is??

unsure.gif

#3 shimlad

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:17 AM

QUOTE(Kaz007 @ Jan 18 2010, 12:15 PM) View Post
Where no description is declared, G take snippets by default...your problem is??

unsure.gif


Beacuse sometimes what G takes doesnt look great.

#4 rolf

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:45 AM

It's a tricky one, I had to make the same decision myself with one of my sites. In the end I went for the arbitrary 'X characters' approach, but it was just a punt really. I haven't had a chance to measure the effectiveness of one method over the other, so I can't offer anything other than opinion, but I haven't encountered any problems.

When I've finished picking all of the lower hanging fruit on that site I intend to start testing and measuring this more carefully - I suppose you could set up half the site to follow each method and compare the results after a few weeks?

AFAIK description doesn't influence ranking, so really I guess you're just measuring clickthrough from the serps, no?

#5 Jill

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:39 AM

QUOTE(shimlad @ Jan 18 2010, 07:17 AM) View Post
Beacuse sometimes what G takes doesnt look great.


They will take the snippet that has the words the searcher used.

So as long as the content on your pages is using those words, they should take good stuff, making it not a big deal whether or not you use Meta descriptions.

#6 shimlad

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:35 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Jan 18 2010, 01:39 PM) View Post
They will take the snippet that has the words the searcher used.

So as long as the content on your pages is using those words, they should take good stuff, making it not a big deal whether or not you use Meta descriptions.


But sometimes they might grab a bit of text that appears in a menu or on some tabs and it just doesnt look as slick as a meta description.

forgetting this issue Jill, do you have any thoughts on the Automatic Generated Vs Page Content ?

#7 Jill

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:53 AM

QUOTE
But sometimes they might grab a bit of text that appears in a menu or on some tabs and it just doesnt look as slick as a meta description.


Only if those have the keywords the searcher used.

QUOTE
forgetting this issue Jill, do you have any thoughts on the Automatic Generated Vs Page Content ?


It's all the same in the end to search engines. If you're taking content that is already on the page and using it for your Meta description, it's doubtful you'll gain any value, since that's what the search engines will take anyway (if it has the keyword phrases the searcher used).

You may want to read my meta description articles for more.

#8 shimlad

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:04 PM

i am getting the vibe here that...

1) it doesnt matter which i choose?

and

2) nobody bothers writing meta descriptions anymore anyway?

#9 rolf

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:27 AM

FTR

1) I agree

2) I generally do, but maybe I shouldn't bother?

#10 shimlad

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 08:57 AM

QUOTE(rolf @ Jan 19 2010, 11:27 AM) View Post
2) I generally do, but maybe I shouldn't bother?


yes i still do too, it just feels like it is the right thing to do oldfogey.gif !

#11 shimlad

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 09:00 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Jan 18 2010, 04:53 PM) View Post
Only if those have the keywords the searcher used.
It's all the same in the end to search engines. If you're taking content that is already on the page and using it for your Meta description, it's doubtful you'll gain any value, since that's what the search engines will take anyway (if it has the keyword phrases the searcher used).

You may want to read my meta description articles for more.


what about the pages which show 10 cottages in region x, theres not much text on these pages. Just a list of cottage names and prices so surely google wont be able to find anything that would make a good meta tag?

#12 Jill

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 09:01 AM

1. It doesn't matter which way you choose, that's correct.

2. I do it for clients, but not so much for our own site. I would highly suggest doing it for pages that don't have good keyword rich content on them already, however. Or for those that show a crappy snippet for a specific keyword phrase that you know you're receiving traffic for.

Remember that they show different snippets for different search queries.

#13 SelfMade

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 09:51 AM

If its a site with 100 of pages as you say, manually t.y.p.e in the most i.m.p.o.r.t.a.n.t pages and leave the r.e.s.t to G?

Who wants to read crap anyway??

Er, I think Jills already said that anyway.

unsure.gif



#14 jackc007

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:16 AM

I tend to use the meta description as a way to sell your website, as this is the thing that is seen when people find your website on search engines.

For example try to write why the page is unique or any special offers you currently have in your meta description.

#15 Jill

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:26 PM

QUOTE
For example try to write why the page is unique or any special offers you currently have in your meta description.


Which is fine and good, but again, it will likely only show if it has the keyword phrase the searcher used.




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