A few weeks ago Shark SEO posted an intriguing experiment about multiple meta descriptions. To be more exact, he experimented with adding more than one meta description into a single meta description tag.
One or more actual meta descriptions would exceed the meta description display character limit of approx. 165 characters. Why would you want to do it? Well, usually search users are seeking more than one aspect of your site or service. Thus it would be an advantage to serve all of them the perfect meta description.
Expanding on this concept, I wanted to test whether you can add more than one or multiple meta description tags.
I wondered whether Google would accept more than one meta description tag. Also, I wanted to find out which one it would take – the first one?
In the test performed by Shark SEO, both descriptions contained in one tag could be triggered to appear in the search snippet depending on the keyphrase used in the search query. Would it be the case here as well?
To test, I used three different meta descriptions of the same length each. I also added a unique series of characters and digits to the page. This combination did not appear in the Google index before the test. I made sure that the text appearing on the page itself did not match the meta descriptions, and that at least one unique term did appear in each description.
So what did I find out?
- Only the first meta description gets shown
- Some of the words contained in the first meta description will get highlighted
- Terms contained only in the meta description won’t show up in search
So it’s everything as expected. The outcome does not contradict what we know or what Google has said for years.
- Google ignores the additional meta description tags. There is no way to make them appear in search results.
- Even the first one that gets indexed does not appear in the search results beyond the search snippet.
- It’s not a ranking factor. So in a way you can’t even say it’s indexed. Google is just aware of it but it doesn’t count.
Google Social Search
On the other hand I was quite surprised about the way (Google) social search does work or not.
I tweeted the links from my ”power account” and expected it to get indexed immediately these days. What happened instead?
It took Google several minutes or maybe even a quarter of an hour; I didn’t check every minute to find it and it only showed up in “social search” results, not in regular Google results:
OK, I expected that the link would get indexed a bit later, but instead it not only didn’t, but it even vanished from my social search results as well after approx. a day.
After a week I gave up, and as the page still wasn’t in the main Google index I tweeted it again, and this time I asked for retweets from my followers. A few of them, I think five exactly because no tool has counted them, helped and retweeted it. After that, the URL appeared instantly in the main Google index, not just in the social search results.
So you need at least a bunch of retweets to get indexed by Google if your link solely appeared on Twitter, as was the case here. There may be a few reasons why my first link wasn’t used to index it at once:
- Google knows that I’m the proprietor and webmaster of onreact.com, so they don’t count my own Twitter mention of it.
- Google does not consider my Twitter account to be reliable and authoritative enough to show up new pages in Google results.
- Google has a “first link does not count” rule when it comes to indexation of pages mentioned on Twitter, no matter who tweets it.
To be honest all three options sound realistic, but I’d rather expect a more complex combination of all three and some additional factors to play a role here. Nonetheless, the outcome is clear: just tweeting a link once is not necessarily enough for the page to appear in Google’s results.
It’s also worth mentioning that neither Bing nor Ask have been able to index the page at all. Even Twitter can’t find, it while at the same time some of the users who tweeted show up in the people search for the unique phrase.
So the good old link is still important when it comes to indexation. Don’t rely solely on tweets to succeed in search engines.
Visit http://onreact.com/mmdst1.html to take a look at the page I used for this SEO test.