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Duplicate meta descriptions in WMT - what is an allowable number?
malinkam




msg:3870510
 12:46 am on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I seem to be having issues with WMT reporting for duplicate meta descriptions, short meta descriptions and duplicate title tags.

Can we hear from your experience what are reasonable numbers, what would make you adjust your meta tags and what you would consider as "safe"? Is there a formula for this?

For example if you have 1000 pages in total and WMT reports 100 of them to be short meta description would this alarm you or would you ignore it?

Thanks in advance.

 

tedster




msg:3870615
 5:26 am on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

When you say "allowable" - what's the "or else" you are concerned about?

The warning is telling you that those urls may not be well indexed, may not rank as well as they could, may not show a particularly helpful snippet, or may be a sign of a canonical problem on your site. If any of those issues matter in your cases, I'd suggest fixing things, no matter what the numbers are.

malinkam




msg:3870764
 1:40 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

my "or else" theory would be for example:

If 10% of your pages are reported as short meta descriptions your entire site falls into -20 penalty/filter

If 20% of your pages are reported as short meta descriptions your entire site falls into -50 penalty/filter

and so on.

icedowl




msg:3870789
 3:29 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

For example if you have 1000 pages in total and WMT reports 100 of them to be short meta description would this alarm you or would you ignore it?

I had that scenario quite a number of months ago and I fixed every last one of them.

malinkam




msg:3870800
 3:57 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

icedowl, are you saying you got all your numbers to zero? How many pages in total does your site have? Also, would a zero be considered site being too clean or overoptimized?

icedowl




msg:3870818
 4:31 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, I got all of them down to zero. That site has just under 900 pages currently. It did take quite a bit of time to accomplish.

I rewrote the meta descriptions to be similar to descriptions that one would find on a restaurant menu. They describe their offerings, helping you to decide what to have to eat and I thought it was a good approach.

Too clean or overoptimized? I have no idea.

I do know that the competition for that site has little to no useful text as their descriptions for their pages so I do think it has helped in getting the visitors attention.

JoeSinkwitz




msg:3870823
 4:38 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

The annoying thing about WMT and dupe meta reporting is the false positives -- I've seen them start complaining about pages that were 301ed 2 years ago.

Never let any reporting slide though; even if you have to hire up just to check out the issues, do it. Otherwise, a simple dif script should be able to tell you if an issue truly exists, before WMT knows about it.

sandboxsam




msg:3870846
 5:48 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is no meta descriptions better than duplicate meta descriptions?

malinkam




msg:3870853
 6:06 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

sandboxsam, good question. I would like to find out as well if removing them is a good idea. We have a lot of dynamic pages and it is very hard to do a good job on meta descriptions.

g1smd




msg:3870868
 6:25 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am seeing pages reported as "short meta description" dropping out of Google's index some 3 to 4 weeks after they are flagged in WMT if the "errors" have not been fixed in that time.

These are on sites that have little text content, content is mostly images with short descriptions. Pages do have unique title tag and on-page headings.

tedster




msg:3870919
 7:32 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

my "or else" theory would be for example:

If 10% of your pages are reported as short meta descriptions your entire site falls into -20 penalty/filter

If 20% of your pages are reported as short meta descriptions your entire site falls into -50 penalty/filter

No, nothing like that. A true "duplicate penalty" against all the rankings of an entire website is extremely rare, and pretty much reserved for the serious autogenerated spam. See the thread Duplicate Content demystified [webmasterworld.com] - it's in the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.

malinkam




msg:3871014
 10:17 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

thank you for your clarification tedster

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