Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Scott Clark on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, August 9, 2018).

Google continues to show the bad description on all searches

We have a site that my team have done site wide meta description updates (the originals looked almost like random text.) Despite a months` elapsed time, google continues to show the bad decs on all searches *unless* we look at the updated pages with a "site:domain.com search" - which presumably takes Google`s "improvements" out of the equation.

They`re written for humans. The length and relevance of the descriptions are spot on and it is not keyword stuffed or otherwise offensive to Google guidelines. They are highly relevant to the pages and the test queries.

What other tests could we do to isolate cause and repair this?

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Stockbridge Truslow: Math and time. There`s a huge set of factors that go into deciding exactly what Google is going to show in the snippet for each commonly used search term. It`s not only about knowing what to show, but also (and maybe more importantly at this stage of Google`s evolution) in understanding what is showing and how it affects click-rates. In addition - Meta Descriptions are what YOU are telling the search engines your page is about. Your page content itself is what Google looks at to see what the page is about. Before you made the changes, Google saw your page content and then it saw what you said that content was about. After some time, it came to some happy medium of understanding that. Now, though, you`ve changed all your pages and have said, "This page is about something different than before." The trick there is that your content hasn`t changed - so it`s confused. (Is this content about this or that?" asks Google. So now all the algos run on it as it tries to figure it out and, well, that just takes time. This is an overly simplified example of what is happening, but in the long run, if you`ve improved things, then things will likely get better. There are a lot of things in both off and on page SEO that aren`t just a matter of making the change and sudden success. There is a lot of data that has been building up over time and that has all been shaken up. It takes a while for the water to settle on major changes like this.
  • Scott Clark: It`s interesting that site: bypasses all of this and teases us with a good looking listing. At least I can show that to the client.By the way, Bing has not shown the new descriptions yet either, though it had much better ones to start with. Googles are literally like random characters.
  • Michael Martinez: So you may be running into one of my RankBrain hypotheses. What is NOT a hypothesis is that Google developed RankBrain to compare a query you type in with prior queries. Beyond that, everyone in Web marketing has their own interpretation or theory about what is going on.AS I UNDERSTAND THE LITERATURE, RankBrain is recommending to another algorithm whether it should use stored search results (for a previously "known" query) or compute new search results.MY HYPOTHESIS: Google stores search results in some sort of cache.If my hypothesis is correct, that MIGHT explain what you are seeing. But Google has not disclosed many details about RankBrain or this apparent caching. I had to glean what I have learned from several research papers that I found right after RankBrain was first announced.The general SEO community has not yet found those papers (at least, I haven`t seen anyone discuss them). I`ve only shared the details with a limited group of people.
  • Michael Martinez: If my hypothesis is anything close to the truth, you would have to wait for Google to expire old data from its query results cache (assuming anything like that is being used).
  • Scott Clark: Well to present such garbage on these tags is a pretty clear indication that this part of their algo is not ready for prime time. It didn`t even use the product description, which is wrapped with product schema on what appears to me a well structured page.
  • Stockbridge Truslow: Yes. Michael. In a simplified way - I`d say you`re spot on. In a more complicated way, you`re at least on the right track. There`s a LOT that goes on now with seed results and things that take a WHILE to work themselves out of the system.
  • Schieler Dayne: Did you fetch the site through Google`s webmaster tools?
  • Scott Clark: We did Fetch and render on about 20 pages about 2 weeks ago.
  • Schieler Dayne: Scott Clark - do the whole site, weekly and give it time. We have 50, 000 pages on some of our sites and it can take weeks or months.
  • Jim Munro: A month is only 4 or 5 weekends.
  • Michael Martinez: Spoke with a friend of mine earlier today who mentioned one of his clients` sites is seeing slow SERP changes despite massive updates on the site. This has become an issue for many people, and I believe it is because Google now runs sites through so many algorithms it just takes a long time to get everything updated.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, August 9, 2018).

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