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Bypassed by Google? There’s a Fix for That

Updated on March 15, 2016
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By Adam Kennedy-Ripon

PRAGUE – Imagine this: your customers are searching for your business on Google, but your company’s Meta description is not in the search results or, worse, Google displays a code or server error. Think this is not a problem, or just a minor glitch that Google will resolve? Think again.

All businesses depend on Google these days. Google dominates the search industry in the United States, accounting for 67 percent of all searches or roughly 40,000 search queries every second. If each search was initiated by a different individual, by the time that you finish reading this paragraph more than 1.2 million people, or the whole population of Estonia, would have run a Google search. With such a huge potential client base, you want to ensure that your Meta description and brand message are displayed correctly.

Although Google rarely bypasses Meta descriptions, those few times that they do can be devastating to business, especially when your company depends on certain keywords to attract the majority of organic traffic to your website. Those omissions can hurt start-ups, e-commerce stores, and even large companies that rely on their unique branding. Needless to say, this gives your competitors an advantage. To make things worse, Google provides minimal, if any, support to resolve this issue.

So what can you do? As an SEO expert, I was recently asked by a company in the top ten of the Fortune 500 list to solve this issue. We went through several steps.

First, we republished assets that we suspected could have instigated the problem. We also revised images, videos and webpages and even changed our back end code. It was to no avail. Google continued to bypass our Meta description, and to display a line of code in the snippet section on its search page.

We went right back to work and double-checked everything, and delisted a link that appeared in the snippet section of the Google Search Results Page. Google was still pulling from the code. We tried again, but unfortunately all our attempts were failed – Google still displayed a snippet of code gibberish instead of an official business introduction.

After some research, we eventually found a website that was replicating our entire website within an iFrame on their homepage. This was very strange and disturbing to see. Plus, we discovered that whenever we updated our Meta description, their Meta description was automatically updated, too. We reasoned that this constant duplication of the Meta descriptions could have caused issues for the Googlebot when it was indexing our website. We needed to resolve this without contacting the other website.

We decided to change our Meta description in order to include the brand keyword, which is also listed in our URL, and a title tag. We then we republished the page with the updated Meta description and requested Google to re-crawl. Within six hours, Google successfully re-indexed our client's website. Problem solved! In effect, we provided an additional keyword which was the decisive factor for Google to display our Meta description. That Meta description is now appearing as intended in the snippet section on the Google Search Page.

We will probably never be 100% sure if the website duplication was the sole cause for Google bypassing our Meta description; however, however, we do know that our intervention was successful.

Going back to SEO basics, it's always good practice to include your URL Domain Name in your Meta description, or at least a keyword that has the most organic traffic volume. Perhaps Google could allow a little more insight into its algorithm in the event that it affects your branding; but that probably will not happen soon.

Adam T. Kennedy- Ripon, Global Search Manager for Wunderman (WPP Group); Global Social Community and Social Listening Manager Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB); Social Listening Manager for Microsoft EMEA - Cortana ; Search Quality consultant Ford of Europe, Dell, Reckitt Benckiser Group andBlueHive, Microsoft Events specialist.

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