On Page SEO

How To: Stop Google From Re-Writing Your Meta Descriptions

By on 15th June 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
How To: Stop Google From Re-Writing Your Meta Descriptions

Picture the scene:

You have spent hours doing extensive keyword research in order to create what you deem to be the perfect meta data for key landing pages on your site.  You’ve got a great title tag and meta description that you are certain will boost your click through rate from the SERPs.

And then Google doesn’t even display it, instead they use some random text from elsewhere on your page.

Annoying isn’t it.  One of the most common questions I’m asked as website optimisation consultant is “why does Google keep re-writing my search snippets”?

Allow me to explain, and then show you how to stop them doing it.

What Is A Meta Description And Why Is It Important:

I assume you know this already, so will keep this brief.

A meta description is an HTML element that summarizes a webpage’s content. Search engines display the meta description in search results. Meta descriptions are important for:

  • Providing context: Helps users understand what the page is about
  • Increasing click-through rates: Encourages users to click on the search result
  • Influencing search rankings: Indirectly affects SEO by improving user engagement

So Why Does Google Rewrite Meta Descriptions?

Google rewrites meta descriptions to:

  • Provide more relevant descriptions: Matches description to user’s specific query
  • Improve user experience: Helps users find the most suitable content for their needs
  • Compensate for missing or poor descriptions: Fills in when meta description is absent or low-quality

Google’s algorithms analyze page content and search query to generate rewritten descriptions. The process aims to create descriptions that are:

  • Accurate: Reflects page content
  • Informative: Includes key details
  • Concise: Fits within display limits

Rewriting occurs when the original meta description:

  • Doesn’t match the content
  • Is too long or short
  • Contains irrelevant information
  • Is duplicate across multiple pages

An example of this is on a query that returns a blog article I wrote along side others, that being:

“google tag manager events not showing in analytics ga4”

You will see my blog post appear with the exact description that I want to appear as follows:

Good snippet

Now I think that is a good description, and the article which ranks at #7 for that term has a CTR of 11%, so I’m happy with this snippet, it’s doing it’s job.

But further down the page you have a result from the excellent blog of Julius Fedorovicious aka Analytics Mania.

bad snippet

We can see from his source code that the meta description is as follows:

meta description

But instead as you can see Google is instead using content from halfway down the page:

page content

Personally, I think his meta description is better than the one Google has provided.

Not cool Google.

They don’t just rewrite meta descriptions either, they do it for title tags.

The title tag on my home page is:

“Freelance Website Optimisation Consultant”

But if you search for “Organic Digital”, the home page title shows as:

rewritten title tag

I get that, it makes sense, it’s saying “this is the site / brand that matches what you just search for so click here”.    But as shown above, I don’t think they always get it right.

Meta Description Best Practice

When writing a description you should aim to:

  • Accurately describe the page content
  • Include relevant keywords, USPs or call to actions
  • Fit within the recommended character limit (usually 155-160 characters)

So What Can I Do To Stop Google Re-Writing My Descriptions?

You use an HTML attribute called “data-nosnippet” and apply this to elements of the page you don’t want Google to extract content from on your page.  

How To Use data-nosnippet

You could apply it to specific elements / blocks of contents and leave others, but personally I just add this to the div that contains the entire page content to give Google nowhere to go other than my actual meta description:

data-nosnippet

So now all my descriptions appear exactly as I intended:

an array of good quality snippets

So if that is something of interest to you and you need help implementing this, feel free to get in touch via the content form below or mail me at dave@organicdigital.co

Get In Touch

Fill in the form below if you want to enhance your website's organic visibility