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Was on the fence about posting this as a Question or Discussion so I flipped a coin :).

Has anybody else noticed lately that Google is rarely utilizing user provided Meta Descriptions? Our company provides Digital Marketing Services, including SEO and copywriting. We've been publishing a lot of new content for the past couple weeks on over a dozen websites for one of our larger clients. This is a mixture of new web pages and refreshing/updating content on existing web pages. We utilize Yoast for managing Titles and Meta Descriptions. After publishing/updating we typically will request the page to be crawled by Google via Search Console.

Anecdotally, I'd say in the past, it would be almost 100% that Google would choose the custom provided Meta Description when it was a new page and about 50% of the time (maybe less) it would choose the custom provided Meta Description when updating an existing ranked page. However, lately it seems that Google simply chooses to create its own Meta Description regardless of it being a new page or existing page. Titles still seem to be effective for new pages and hit or miss with existing pages. I've gone back to look at some of our other client websites (besides the one mentioned above) that we've recently written content and furnished custom Titles and Meta Descriptions and it seems to be a similar situation.

I've told my clients for years that it is Google's prerogative on whether it uses its own Meta Description or a user provided one, but lately it appears that Google is totally ignoring user provide Meta Descriptions.

Would appreciate feedback from other people on their recent experience in this area and any possible suggestions.

Thanks!
Jeff
 
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Tiggerito

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How are you testing the snippets?

What Google shows varies by several factors including the query term used. I'm sure they are contantly tweeking those factors.
 
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How are you testing the snippets?

What Google shows varies by several factors including the query term used. I'm sure they are contantly tweeking those factors.
Good point which I had not mentioned in my original post. Regardless of the search method, Google is showing content they've pulled off the page. Again, this is a recent discovery which is why I was asking if other people have seen this happening for their new content. For older, previously ranked content (same client), Google is displaying a mixture of user provided meta description vs. Google scraped (which has been typical up until recently). As you pointed out, sometimes the snippet changes based on the query but not so much for the new content written in the past 3 weeks or so.

The great majority of the page content is written primarily for short-tail keyword searches. Most of the pages with the new content have quickly rose in SERP for the intended keywords and locality, not a problem there. Testing is done using a variety of methods and combination of those methods. Our preferred quick method for checking SERP (and snippet content) is using Google's Anonymous Adword Tool as it allows rapid ad-hoc testing combinations of keywords, location, and device. FWIW, we use several tools for scheduled reporting of Adword/SERP positioning. We manage over 20 different location websites for this particular client, spanning three states, all with similar results for the new content.
 

Tiggerito

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Good point which I had not mentioned in my original post. Regardless of the search method, Google is showing content they've pulled off the page. Again, this is a recent discovery which is why I was asking if other people have seen this happening for their new content. For older, previously ranked content (same client), Google is displaying a mixture of user provided meta description vs. Google scraped (which has been typical up until recently). As you pointed out, sometimes the snippet changes based on the query but not so much for the new content written in the past 3 weeks or so.

The great majority of the page content is written primarily for short-tail keyword searches. Most of the pages with the new content have quickly rose in SERP for the intended keywords and locality, not a problem there. Testing is done using a variety of methods and combination of those methods. Our preferred quick method for checking SERP (and snippet content) is using Google's Anonymous Adword Tool as it allows rapid ad-hoc testing combinations of keywords, location, and device. FWIW, we use several tools for scheduled reporting of Adword/SERP positioning. We manage over 20 different location websites for this particular client, spanning three states, all with similar results for the new content.
Sounds like you have a good testing/monitoring system in place. Maybe this is a change in how Google determines the snippet.
 

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