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Duplicate Meta Descriptions

Duplicated Meta Description Sets | Canonical Pages

In this guide we describe what this meta description is, what the check is, how it works, and we provide context as to why this SEO check is performed. The duplicated meta description check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag) within this part of reporting.


Duplicated Meta Description Sets

Where multiple canonical pages share the same meta description they are defined as a duplicated meta description set. Canonical pages are by definition the canonical version of the content, the content should be unique. Consequently, the meta descriptions should be unique and reflect the content on the page.


What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a tag containing text that exists in the source code of a page and is only visible or used in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Meta descriptions encourage users to click on your organic listings and as such are a powerful indirect ranking factor. This makes them very useful for SEO, which means they should be optimised.

The meta description including the HTML tags (of our homepage) sits in the <head> section of the source code and looks like this:

<meta name="description" content="Raptor - Digital Marketing Tools. Advanced Web Crawler now available, sign up for a free trial and get 5,000 URLs free! Sign Up Today!">


What is a Canonical Page?

A canonical page is a webpage that has a self-referential canonical tag present on it. A canonical tag advises Google as to the preferred / original version of content. If a page / piece of content is accessible from multiple URLs or is duplicated across multiple pages, a canonical tag helps to define the ‘canonical’ version.

A canonical tag contains a URL and if that URL matches the URL of the page being accessed, it is defined as a canonical page. Canonical pages are typically the ‘SEO’ pages of a site as they are most likely to appear in the search results. The canonical tag of our homepage looks like this in HTML:

<link rel="canonical" href="">


What Are Duplicated Meta Description Sets?

Where two canonical pages have identical meta descriptions they form a ‘duplicate meta description set. Canonical pages should, for the most part, have unique meta descriptions that summarise the page content and encourage users to click through from Google to your site. Duplicate meta descriptions often imply poorly optimised pages and are a quick win in terms of improving the SEO of the site.

Duplicate meta description sets may contain more than just two pages, a single meta description could be duplicated across any number of pages. This component of a webpage is often overlooked and so it is possible to have a single meta description used on every page of a site.

Learn more about meta descriptions and how to optimise them to help improve the organic visibility of any website.


What Do We Check & How?

Our SEO auditing tool crawls every page and extracts the meta description if present, and later during the analysis phase, compares them all to find duplicate sets. Where we identify pages that share exactly matching meta description text, we flag these and mark them as being a ‘duplicate meta description set’.

We present the data for this in the reporting tabs and SEO audit charts. The raw data is also available to download from the export tab in reporting, where you can get both CSV and XLXS files for any project or site.

As mentioned previously, these checks are performed exclusively on canonical pages, so if a meta description is duplicated across multiple non-canonical pages this would not be flagged as an error here. You will be able to see all duplicate meta description sets under the ‘meta description’ category in the SEO Errors report.


What should you do with this data?

You can use our software to identify duplicate meta descriptions across your site and you can use that data to:

  • Re-write the affected meta description
  • Improve the organic visibility of the affected pages
  • Provide the list of duplicate meta description sets to a client
  • Count errors on a site