Optimized Meta Description Not Showing? 3 Ways to Get Google to Update It

Meta descriptions help title tags attract people into visiting a web page and engage users. To do this, they need to be brief, punchy, and catchy.

Descriptions must also have a call-to-action (CTA) that urges people to click through the listing and check out the page content.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t always show your custom description in the search engine results pages (SERPs) even if you spend hours optimizing this HTML element.

Want to know a secret? There are ways to get the search engine to update the descriptions so that they reflect the ones you’ve written with the help of SEO specialists in Dubai.

Read on to learn why your meta descriptions don’t immediately show in the SERPs and the possible ways you can get Google to update them.

Why Google Shows the Wrong Meta Description

You put in extensive effort in writing meta descriptions, but‌ Google chooses an excerpt from your post instead.

Feels awful, right?

No matter how much time and effort you put into optimizing your metadata, search engines are not obliged to display them in the search results. In fact, Google may often choose to show something else.

This is because the search engine’s ultimate goal is to give users the most relevant results for a given query, which sometimes means disregarding hard-coded descriptions.

There are many reasons why your meta descriptions get replaced, but usually, it’s because it is not the most relevant to the user’s search query.

It can also be because you haven’t specified a description at all, or wrote one that is too short, too long, or inaccurately represents what the page is about.

There are more than half a dozen causes for this. Below are some of the other possible scenarios:

●      The page has multiple meta descriptions.

While rare, some webpages end up having more than one meta description, causing web crawlers to get confused.

To see if this is the case, check the page source or code view. Right-click anywhere on the page and select “View Page Source” on the menu that pops up. This should open the HTML structure of your website.

Then, type CMD+F or CTRL+F and look up “description” to search for the appropriate tags.

If this generates multiple results, the page contains more than one meta description. Should this happen, you’ll need to ask your website administrator to remove any extras.

If you get only one result, then this issue does not apply.

●      Google hasn’t re-crawled the page or updated its index yet.

Sometimes, Google bots cannot crawl pages fast enough to show the changes you made in your meta descriptions. This typically happens with recently indexed pages.

To check if this is the issue, type “cache:yourwebsiteurl” into the search results page and look for the “appeared” date on the result. If the generated date is before you made the changes, then Google hasn’t updated its index yet.

In this case, you can wait for the web crawlers to go through your page again, though that may take a few days to one entire week. Fortunately, there’s a way you can request Google to re-index the page (read more on this below).

But if the date of your most recent change is after Google’s cache, then you can rule this scenario out.

●      Google prefers other content on the page.

This issue is probably the most difficult to overcome since there really isn’t much you can do to change Google’s mind.

Search engines can choose to show whatever content they deem more relevant to a search query, whether your page has a custom description. Remember, writing meta descriptions is more of a suggestion than a command.

You can just do your best to analyze what’s working for the top pages in the SERPs and optimize your metadata based on what you find. You can also shorten it, switch up the words, and experiment with it until you get Google to display what you’ve written.

How to Get Google to Show Your Optimized Meta Description

While there’s no guarantee, there are certain strategies you can try to get Google to show your custom meta description. At the very least, you can improve the odds by:

1.     Making sure the meta description is optimized.

Follow best practices in writing meta descriptions. But that may be easier said than done.

Of course, there are a few helpful tips you can try, like‌:

  • Keeping your descriptions around 120 to 155 characters.
  • Adding a non-obligatory CTA that creates a sense of urgency (e.g., “Get your free trial today”).
  • Putting the primary keyword and most crucial information at the beginning of the text.

Moreover, you must ensure that your meta description accurately reflects page content.

It also helps if you sprinkle synonyms of your target keyword. When done right, Google sets these words in bold, boosting the visual prominence of your listing.

2.     Using the Google Search Console Inspection Tool.

As mentioned earlier, you can also request Google to re-index your page after making an update to your meta description. Visit the Google Search Console and use the URL inspection tool to make the request.

After doing this, Google will prioritize re-crawling the URL. This usually updates your metadata within minutes.

However, note that this doesn’t guarantee that Google will use the custom description you wrote for all search results. It just means they’ll index it and probably use it when relevant.

Again, remember Google’s ultimate goal: to provide the most relevant search results.

3.     Adding the ‘Data-NoSnippet’ attribute.

Google rewrites meta descriptions sixty percent of the time. However, it’s now possible to stop the search engine from generating its own descriptions and force it to show your customized version instead.

Since September 2019, Google has been allowing “data-nosnippet” attributes to be added to specific elements of a page. This prevents the search engine from using snippets from the page in the search results, leaving it no choice but to use the one already coded into its HTML.

All you need to do is type in the attribute into a div inside the page’s body tag, and voila! No more pulling excerpts from the page’s content body, navigation, and facets.

Of course, knowing that you can doesn’t mean you must.

Studies reveal that descriptions the search engine modifies outperform hard-coded versions frequently. This means Google still knows best.

Remember the Ultimate Goal

Meta descriptions are critical elements of a webpage that help boost click-through rate and organic traffic.

Get your custom-coded descriptions to show on Google but make sure you remember the ultimate goal: to provide valuable data users can use and convince them to engage with your page.