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However, Google looks at the 2nd page and says you have duplicate description, or on the 3rd page of results
mysite.com/widgets.page2 (this has the same meta description as the above)
So google looks at the meta description and says duplicate description.
The same was happening in the titles too, since all of them have the same title, but now I am changing the titles to include page numbers.
However, what to do about descriptions? The other pages are created authomatically and for a large site it's impossible to manually change description for each additional category secondary page
There is a bigger issue here, one that I alluded to above: Should these search results all be in the index? How good a landing page is this content? Your site might do far better if you use robots.txt or meta tags and don't have them indexed at all.
Often search results pages can fllod Google and thereby cloud good analysis of a site. So instead I often allow only category pages, products, information and the like. Maybe a few cached search results that are particularly worthy of being a landing page as well, but I often work to minimize which search results should be indexed.
In fact I noticed that if you go to CNN or other major sites their category pages don't have 2nd 3rd or 4th pages. No professional site has it.
So what do they do? Archive them?
Also: is it better not to have met description tag at all and let search engines sort it out?
Yes or no to meta description when it comes to google?
In a pinch, no meta description is probably better than using duplicate meta description - but it's still best to rollup your sleeves and somehow generate a unique meta description for each page. Either that, or keep those urls out of Google's index altogether. If you can't sort it out, even knowing your site intimately, then it's probably not a good page for the SERPs either.
In your opinion which which one of this is a better scenario for meta description avoiding duplicate.
Let me state that the since the categories are extremely targeted to their topic, the 2nd, 3rd... pages are very valuable for the visitor.
site.com/widget (the widget description is the meta description)
site.com/widget.page2 (has not meta tag)
site.com/widget (meta description is the same as above)
site.com/widget.page2 (meta description is the first title and teaser on that page)
site.com/widget.page3 (meta description is the first title and teaser on that 3rd page)
eliminate meta description at all from category pages
make the second and thrd category pages nonfollow
What do you think?