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Content Blurbs/Meta Descriptions - ok to reuse?

4:08 am on Feb 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have a content site. It has lots of "articles". The articles are organized by categories. Right now each article has a meta description that is created programmatically but reads naturally and is completely unique. I am considering manually rewriting them to be more engaging and have a more personal tone. Right now, these pages rank well enough, but I think a better meta description might improve the ctr from the serps further.

My question is, can that blurb be reused elsewhere without offending Google? For example, can the meta description be used as a header (intro) to the article AND used as a teaser where the article is listed within the category page? An alternative is to write two blurbs - one that is used as the meta tag for the article and the teaser on the category page, and the other as the article header (or, one that is used as the meta tag and article header, and the other as the teaser).

Does this make sense? Basically, I'm wondering if Google will dislike the reuse of this content. The site (the category pages only) was hit by Panda 1.0 (and subsequent updates). In addition to improving the ctr of the articles (which weren't Pandalized) I'm also hoping that adding more content (blurbs) to the category pages will help with Panda recovery.

As much as I'd like to write three unique blurbs for every article (meta desc, header, teaser) we are talking about a LOT of articles and I'm just not sure that's feasible. I'd rather just leave things as is if reusing content would harm us.
6:01 am on Feb 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Descriptions haven't counted directly in the rankings for quite a while, except possibly as a negative if they're 'stuffed', so personally, I'd use whatever I thought (or tested) would generate the best click through.
11:56 am on Feb 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I would say meta descriptions indirectly impact rankings, because I think ctr is probably part of the secret recipe and meta descriptions can have a big impact on ctr.
1:23 pm on Feb 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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On blog/article sites/CMS I have a character-limited 'snippet' field that I use for:
- the introduction to the article, and
- the meta description.

My introduction to the article is what I want a human to read, so I want Google to display it as it's 'snippet' also. A far as I'm concerned it's the same thing: a precis of the content including keywords and a hook.

I've never noticed any problems from taking this approach.

I do have a separate article title/name and <title> title though.
1:50 pm on Feb 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I reuse article meta descriptions on category pages - never noticed a problem.

I also find it helpful for error checking, as I'm often looking through the category pages and its easy to pick up mistakes.
6:32 am on Feb 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! Looks like I have some writing to do :)

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