Multiple Meta Descriptions | 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 multiple meta description check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag) within this part of reporting.
Multiple Meta Descriptions
If a single canonical page contains multiple meta descriptions, it is defined as having this specific issue. All canonical pages should have just one meta description tag present and this tag should be unique and within the character limit.
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 multiple 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="https://raptor-dmt.com/">
What Are Multiple Meta Descriptions?
Where one canonical page has more than one meta description it is defined as having ‘multiple meta descriptions’. 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. Multiple meta descriptions often imply poorly optimised pages and are a quick win in terms of improving the SEO of the site.
This problem can manifest in many ways, such as having two different or identical meta descriptions on the same page. If they are the same, the problem is less severe. If they are different, you may be showing the wrong meta description in the SERPs. This sends a mixed message to Google about what you want and could lead to reduced organic visibility over time.
Learn more about meta descriptions and how to optimise them to help improve the organic visibility of any website.
What Do We Check & How?
Raptor’s SEO audit tool crawls every page and extracts the meta descriptions where present, and later during the analysis phase, flags any page with more than one. Where our tool identifies pages that have multiple meta descriptions, we mark them as being a ‘multiple meta description’ pages.
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 multiple across multiple non-canonical pages this would not be flagged as an error here. You will be able to see all multiple 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 multiple 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 multiple meta description sets to a client
- Count errors on a site