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Webmaster Tools Adds Content Analysis

Detailed info on Title and Meta Description issues

     
2:49 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Cool new feature in Webmaster Tools - you can go into Diagnostics and Content Analysis, and it will now tell you if you have issues with duplicate titles or meta descriptions, or non-indexable content.

From the Blog:

The Content analysis summary page within the Diagnostics section of Webmaster Tools features three main categories. Click on a particular issue type for more details:
  • Title tag issues
  • Meta description issues
  • Non-indexable content issues

Selecting "Duplicate title tags" displays a list of repeated page titles along with a count of how many pages contain that title. We currently present up to thirty duplicated page titles on the details page. If the duplicate title issues shown are corrected, we'll update the list to reflect any other pages that share duplicate titles the next time your website is crawled.

Also, in the Title tag issues category, we show "Long title tags" and "Short title tags." For these issue types we will identify title tags that are way too short (for example "IT" isn't generally a good title tag) or way too long (title tag was never intended to mean <insert epic novel here>). A similar algorithm identifies potentially problematic meta description tags. While these pointers won't directly help you rank better (i.e. pages with <title> length x aren't moved to the top of the search results), they may help your site display better titles and snippets in search results, and this can increase visitor traffic.

In the "Non-indexable content issues," we give you a heads-up of areas that aren't as friendly to our more text-based crawler. And be sure to check out our posts on Flash and images to learn how to make these items more search-engine friendly.

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com ]

[edited by: tedster at 8:05 pm (utc) on Dec. 14, 2007]

7:28 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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That is a very nice service. I just checked one site that I thought was pristine in the area of titles, but it wasn't. One was missing a title element and 16 pages used duplicates. The Sitemaps feedback is also helpful.

I also appreciate the notices for meta descriptions and title that are either "too short" or "too long". In particular, although I always had suspected this, I had never read this information on one of the Help pages::

To be avoided (may cause your site to be perceived as spam):
<title>Webmaster Central seo optimization search engine
search engine google websearch google searchresults improve
search results seo optimize search searching serps</title>

[google.com...]

7:38 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Definitely very cool!

However, I noticed that a lot of the "errors" noted by Google are problems with their spidering. When I check the duplicate titles, Google has most of them with different titles than what are actually on the page. (We've seen that problem sometimes in the SERPs as well.)

But otherwise definitely some great new features!

7:38 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just noticed it myself. One page of mine tho, is listed with a short description.

Should I really be changing anything tho, if I'm already ranked #1 or #2 for it's keyword?

Think I'll just leave it....

7:48 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My understanding is that the description meta tag is only used as a potential snippet on the SERP and is not a direct part of the ranking algortihm.
8:02 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Yea, this is going to be a lot of help. I still have clients who have title tags that say "Home" on them. (Not sites that *I* have worked on, natch, but that we host) Now I can show them that even Google thinks they should clean up their act.

[edited by: tedster at 8:06 pm (utc) on Dec. 14, 2007]
[edit reason] fix typo [/edit]

9:45 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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very nice!

And now... off to work on some tags.

10:54 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is good, but aren't penalties more important? I don't know that any meta tag issues of length will get you penalized. Why can't we have an "Issues" section in Tools for the -950 and -30? This other stuff is cosmetics.

p/g

11:00 pm on Dec 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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yet missing the most important aspect....
A definitive answer as to why the penalty.
3:30 am on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is good, but aren't penalties more important? I don't know that any meta tag issues of length will get you penalized. Why can't we have an "Issues" section in Tools for the -950 and -30? This other stuff is cosmetics.


yet missing the most important aspect....
A definitive answer as to why the penalty.

This has been long debated and people are split on this, although I think it's gray issue not just pure black-and-white one

-on one hand it would be helpful if SE would give you reason for penalty so that you can fix your site and make it better for users (not just SEs)

-on the another hand it would enable someone to figure out and go around "mouse trap" (i.e. spam SEs)

One way to think about this, where analogy is closer to webmaster's heart, is: if you put "honey pots" on you site, what would you say, and do, if harvester/'copy cat bot'/etc. complained that you don't provide them with information where they lay...

[edited by: Tastatura at 3:31 am (utc) on Dec. 15, 2007]

1:23 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is very helpful. But there is a general issue which I do not understand. Can anyone clarify this?

The pages listed with duplicate or short meta tag are all pages that are also listed in the "Pages with internal links" section. But many of my pages are not listed in the "Pages with internal links" section. I have always assumed that these were supplemental pages, and if that's true then they are excluded from the new feature.

5:44 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is very helpful. But there is a general issue which I do not understand. Can anyone clarify this?

The pages listed with duplicate or short meta tag are all pages that are also listed in the "Pages with internal links" section. But many of my pages are not listed in the "Pages with internal links" section. I have always assumed that these were supplemental pages, and if that's true then they are excluded from the new feature.

I don't think that you can make correlation / causation just based on the info you provided.
G lists only sample of your backlings and not the all of the ones it knows about.
from: G help center: How can I see links to my site? [google.com]

The Pages with internal links table provides a sampling of the pages on your site that have links to them from pages within your site.
(emphasis by me)

So that means that there is a likelihood that not all of your pages will be listed in the "Pages with internal links" section - and that is what you are seeing. Out of that sample it gives you analysis of your pages - in your case it thinks that you have short meta tag on (some of) your pages. Solution to that is simple : rewrite your meta tags to be be more descriptive and hopefully unique per page.
The rest of your pages might or might not be in the 'supplemental' index - but you'll have to determine that in different ways, not just from info given on links screen of G's tool as that info is incomplete fro that analysis.
Reasons for pages going to 'old supplemental' index can be numerous, but I highly doubt it will happen solely because meta tags are too short.

If you want to see greater sample of your backlinks go to Yahoo Site Explorer [siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com]. Chances are that if Y knows about backlinks so does G

7:40 pm on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Great tool. Said I had 12 duplicate description tags... I did, so I added adjectives for uniqueness.

But the "Pages with short meta descriptions" are puzzling (I have 35.) Some of these have over 50 characters. They are what they are, succinct and to the point. Silly to add fluff words just to satisfy this tool. I've always been a big believer in keeping the <head> section lean and mean!

11:44 am on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I believe HarryM has made a great observation.

I have found that none of the pages that I know to be supplemental show up in the "Content Analysis" results. I've found the simple test:
[google.com...]
displays supplementals for a site. Example.com has no supplementals!
WARNING: Google may flag this query as automated if you try it too many times.

I personally would be very careful altering a description for a page that already ranks well.
But now we do have a clue about Google's Title and description requirements beyond their normal help topics. But I don't believe we can conclude anything regarding "Supplemental" pages when reviewing the results shown in Content Analysis.

As I result I'll edit some of my descriptions, no matter how accurate and specific they currently are, to Google's apparent requirements. (Bet this will be quoted!).
But I'll only do this on pages that do not rank well for their keywords.
And I'll now use this additional information to aid in alterations made in the hope of promoting a page out of the supplemental index.

1:03 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Bumpski, I used your method to check my supplementals. The first page of SERPS said "about 244", but when I paged to the end the true number was 162. The total number of pages for the site should be about 336, of which 315 are in the Google index. So if this is correct about 153 to 174 are not supplemental.

This is in line with the 163 pages listed at Webmaster Tools with internal links. So I suspect the statement "The Pages with internal links table provides a sampling" merely means that supplementary pages are excluded.

5:08 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My understanding is that the description meta tag is only used as a potential snippet on the SERP and is not a direct part of the ranking algortihm.

Tedster, your understanding of that would be correct, and here is the reference that I found awhile back which confirmed it for me as well.
[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]

And it's worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't affect your ranking within search results.
5:36 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If they do not technically affect the serps then maybe they do affect the content value and or uniqueness... and they certainly affect click through
10:36 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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And it's worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't affect your ranking within search results

The guy who wrote that is a member of the Snippets Team. We have to take it on trust that he is aware of what other teams in the Plex are up to. Anyway he published that on September 27, 2007. It could be ancient history now. I will continue to assume that Google may use the meta description for more than the snippet just to play safe.

3:36 pm on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What I find crazy is that G is telling me that in my Blogger platform blog (I know this is the problem with default Wordpress and other publishing softwares too) there is only one description for each page (G does not allow individual descriptions). I think they should either fix this problem on Blogger or stop treating this as a problem.
7:36 pm on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I wonder what (or whom) google uses to translate its own help-pages into the various languages. On

[google.com ] it says:

Die folgende Meta-Beschreibung liefert beispielsweise detaillierte Informationen über ein Buch.
<META NAME="Beschreibung" CONTENT="Verfasser: A. Verfasser, Illustriert von: B. Bild, Kategorie: Belletristik, Preis: 17,99 Euro, Seiten: 784 Seiten">

In diesem Beispiel sind die Informationen klar formatiert.

I'm a careful person, so: There is no new meta-tag "Beschreibung", is it?

8:34 pm on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Yep, they messed up - no such meta tag. The page's real meta description is just fine, so proofreading of the translated content is lacking.
4:20 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The page's real meta description is just fine

although the "name" of the meta tag doesn't change, it is both useful and important to have the "content" of the meta "description" tag in the same language as the content on the page.
especially if you plan on showing well on (for example) google.de, baidu, etc...

10:54 am on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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System: The following message was spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3535006.htm [webmasterworld.com] by tedster - 10:32 am on Dec. 26, 2007 (EST -5)


Today after along time(nearly two weeks) when I opened my GWT account, I found a new feature called Content analysis

What a lovely feature?
It tells you about duplicate title, meta tags & even content within your website.

Just feel like sharing with you all.

9:51 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This and the other tools would be more utilitarian if G would update the tool's output more often. G displays November 11 as the last time my home page was downloaded even though G does a full download on my home page once or more each and every day.

Likewise, the content analysis summary still displays what it did 2 weeks ago even though I immediately edited these pages to conform to G's suggested changes.

The site map tool does update pretty quickly though; usually about every 72 hours from my experience.

11:02 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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hey Thanks for the information.

I checked up the site and it's actually an amazing feature. I am just wondering when Google will come up with SERPs in Google Webmaster central itself.. say with top 10 keywords ranking

;)

11:28 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am just wondering when Google will come up with SERPs in Google Webmaster central itself.. say with top 10 keywords ranking

Probably never. Webmaster Tools have never been intended as competitive SEO, but for helping each webmaster's site be more efficient. You do have your own keyword searches and clicks tallies listed.
9:41 pm on Dec 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hey folks--

Thanks for all the good feedback! I work with the Webmaster Tools team and can clarify a couple of the questions raised in this thread...

@LifeinAsia, if you have examples of pages whose titles are being wrongly reported, we'd love to know about it so that we can look into a fix. You can post stuff like this in our Webmaster Help Group. One thing you might want to check is whether those pages are the sources or targets of any redirects or meta refreshes. I saw a similar situation recently where it turned out the site had pages with no titles, which were meta-refreshing to pages with normal title tags; so Webmaster Tools reported the URLs without titles, but when the site owner clicked through to those URLs he just saw the targets of the redirect (not the source) and didn't understand that he wasn't looking at the same page.

For those of you with "should I or shouldn't I change it" questions, this data is meant to be an easy way for you to see what we see on your site, rather than a recommendation that you change every single issue in the reports. If you look at our issue reports and say "Yeah, those meta descriptions are short, but I *wanted* them that short", then that's great and you can leave them just the way they are. The scenarios in which we envision people taking action are more of the "Wow, I totally hadn't realized that all my title tags say '[Insert title here]'. I didn't mean to do that!" variety.

@HarryM, it's still true that meta descriptions don't affect your ranking in search results.

@Oliver Henniges, I'll look into getting that translation fixed!

Regarding the supplemental index, you should check out the recent blog post we did about that topic.

< Note: the blog post about "The Ultimate Fate of Supplemental
Results" is linked to and discussed here on WebmasterWorld:
[webmasterworld.com...] -tedster>

[edited by: tedster at 11:50 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2007]

11:05 pm on Dec 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hello and Welcome Susan.
I read your posts regularly in the Google
Webmaster Blogs and Discussion Groups.
Glad to see you perusing and adding to this forum
as well.

Happy New Year!

[edited by: DannyTweb at 11:06 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2007]

3:52 am on Dec 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This and the other tools would be more utilitarian if G would update the tool's output more often. G displays November 11 as the last time my home page was downloaded even though G does a full download on my home page once or more each and every day.

Same with me, and probably with many (if not most) others as well. If anyone knows WHY there is this consistent discrepancy between the date they show in GWT and the date we see on a daily basis in our logs, I for one would love to be educated.

.....................

1:00 pm on Dec 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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it's still true that meta descriptions don't affect your ranking in search results.

Actually, they can. If you don't have a keyword in the page text, but do have it in the Description, Google will rank your page with keywords in the Description, because it reads it. If Google doesn't see it, it can't rank it, but obviously it does.

Keywords meta tags are another story.

p/g

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