Why Does Google Rewrite Meta Descriptions?

Enmanuel Tirado
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September 01, 2023
|
2 min read

How often does Google rewrite meta descriptions?

According to Ahrefs study, “Google rewrites meta descriptions in SERPs 62.78% of the time. And yes,

it’s worth writing them even though they’re only shown only 37% of the time, on average”. — Meta descriptions:

  • Inform the customer further and prompt them to click
  • Drive traffic and are considered a ranking factor.

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Meta descriptions may be served differently: month to month.

For a given search query and airTRFX page, Google can show the hard-coded meta description or a rewritten version at different points in time.

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Digging Deeper: Why Does Google Opt to Rewrite?

 Reason #1. No meta description meta tag

  • Not having a description meta tag is the main reason why Google rewrites meta descriptions. 
  • Fortunately, airTRFX builds all destination/routes and custom pages including the meta description.

Meta Description embedded in source code:

Screenshot 2023-09-01 at 7.31.24 AM.png

Reason #2 - Google can rewrite meta descriptions to match better the user’s search query.

  • If you search for a particular keyword, Google scans all indexed pages for the exact keyword. Google uses the search term to highlight information in search results, which is why the meta description may be different than the hard-coded meta description. This is called “search term manipulation”. 

  • If the search query used is not exactly matched in the hard-coded meta description, Google is likely to rewrite the meta description in SERP. This is also true even if the keyword is used in the hard-coded meta description, but the user used a keyword modifier in Google search (e.g. “cheap” flights to Ho Chi Minh City).

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  • If you want to see the indexed meta description without search term manipulation, use the site command followed by the URL for which Google is rewriting the meta description in SERP. 

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Reason #3 - Different user’s location or device

  • Inquiring the same search query both for desktop and mobile, we keep seeing how Google serves a different meta description on each device.
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Reason #4 - Other technical reasons

  • There are other technical issues that can cause Google’s rewriting of the meta description in SERP:
  • Broken meta description tag.
  • Meta description tag pushed to the <body>.
  • JS script rewriting meta descriptions. 
  • We didn’t find technical issues in the code of airTRFX pages that can break the meta description meta tag and push Google to rewrite the meta description in SERP. The rendered code of airTRFX pages, as Google sees it, contains a unique hard-coded meta description placed in the <head>. 
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In conclusion, Google often rewrites meta descriptions. Crafting effective descriptions is crucial, as they inform and drive traffic. Google may rewrite due to missing tags, keyword matching, or technical issues. To maintain control, optimize your descriptions for better online visibility and user engagement.

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