Search Engines Not Displaying Your Description Meta Tag?

Posted on 23 October 2009 by John Britsios

What exactly is it that you see when one of the pages of your website appears in search results?

Most of the time, the text that you’ll find there is taken from your description meta tag. Depending on the search terms used to find your site, the results may show an excerpt of content from the page which contains the search terms – which is useful in determining if this page is relevant to the search.

Another thing which might show up in the search engines is an excerpt from the DMOZ /Open Directory Project’s description of your site, assuming that your site is listed by DMOZ. If you’d rather the search engines focus on the contents of your description meta tag rather than on this third party description of your site, you can specify this by simply adding the following meta tag:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp” />

This meta tag is supported not only by Google, but also Yahoo! Bing and other search engines. While we’re on the subject of Yahoo!, if your site is listed in the Yahoo directory, search results for your site will usually be taken from the Yahoo directory description of your site instead of your meta tags. This is also an easy problem to fix – just include the following meta tag:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noydir” />

If your description meta tag information isn’t coming up in the results for particular search engines, you can set meta tags for each engine’s bots, like so:

<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noodp” /> for Google

<meta name=”slurp” content=”noydir” /> for Yahoo!

<meta name=”msnbot” content=”noodp” /> for Bing

You can also create just one robots meta tag which specifies all of the attributes you’d like to include. Just separate these attributes by commas, as in this example:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp,noydir” />

As with anything relating to how your site is indexed, it can take a while for the text displayed when your site shows up in search engine results to change. Give the search engine bots a little time to come back and re-index your site and be patient – they will change sooner or later.


Author: John Britsios

Founder and Chief Information Officer (CIO) of SEO Workers and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Webnauts Net, a qualified Forensic SEO & Social Semantic Web Consultant, specializing in Semantic, Forensic & Technical Predictive Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing, Web Content Accessibility, Usability Testing, Social Semantic Web based Responsive Web Design & Ecommerce Development, Conversion Rate Optimization.

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