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Google Listing Notices Instead of Meta Description

Discussion in 'General XenForo Discussion and Feedback' started by TheBigK, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    I've been noticing the cause of sinking traffic [ it's 30% down for us ] and found something interesting -

    Screen Shot 2012-09-14 at 10.57.01 AM.png

    For the last 10-15 days, I put a notice at the top as an introduction to the site. It looks like Google started listing the notice content instead of the thread content (meta description), resulting into traffic drop.

    Yesterday, I removed the notice and replaced it with text by setting up ad_below_top_breadcrumb. I'm not sure if that's a good strategy.

    Earlier, Google would correctly list the thread first lines in the listings, and ignored the notices.

    I want to know if you've experienced anything similar? Any suggestions on fixing this?
  2. Jake Bunce

    Jake Bunce XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I don't see how that would decrease traffic. The text shown in the search result is centered around the search term. If you match that result using a different search term then it will show different text there.
  3. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    Well, not always. Google does pay attention to the meta description these days. The threds that show different description used to rank very well in Google earlier. It's only that after I put the notice that it started pushing down those thread in Google searches. But that's just my opinion.
  4. psTubble27

    psTubble27 Well-Known Member

    Check your notice's markup? Especially if it has custom markup and css. An un-closed tag could make the notice text look like the first line of text on your page, which would certainly affect the SEO.
  5. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    Hello, yes we did have a custom markup in the notices. Do you think it's a good idea to put a textual introduction of the site as ad below the top breadcrumb?
  6. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    What was your search? If I am not being completely stupid (which happens quite often), I think Google pulls the description based on your search, so if you are searching for a sentence inside the post message, you will get that as a description. I think Google tries to pull a description they think is relevant for your search.

    In that I searched for "final fantasy 7 ruby weapon attack", then I removed the attack and searched again, and the same page gets this description:

    Neither of those corresponds to the meta description, so I am fairly certain Google pulls a description they think are most relevant to your search, and if it happens to be the meta tag, it pulls that.
  7. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting observation. Thank you, I'm investigating more into it. I wonder what else could have caused the traffic drop. It was up by about 50% the last week and has been down 30% in this week. Strange behaviour.
  8. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    I spent allot of time trying to manipulate Google descriptions back when I was on phpBB and using board3 portal (which use tables, so I got allot of strange description, among other things a block that displayed html code to link back to us). I also noticed that it is possible for 2 different users to get different description for the same search, but I am not 100% on that. So instead of trying to force an all covering description, I ended up focusing on the searches that was important to me, and on keywords and keyword density.

    My conclusion was that the only way to force a description is to use keywords to trigger it, and that means going through your Webmaster tools data and optimizing individual pages for important search phrases. Not a very practical way of doing it.
  9. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    Thanks, MagnusB. Do you have any directions on investigating what caused the traffic drop? Is it Panda or 'Page Layout' algorithm? I'm going clueless at the moment.
  10. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    I don't know really, it is hard to say. Updates in Google are beneficial for some, while others get hurt by them. I would look at any changes I had done recently, and consider if they could have any impact on it. If you think it is the update, it can be hard to pinpoint, cause Google usually keep these things close to their chest. I haven't looked at the update at all, cause I am lazy like that, but look at the information available and guess, which is all you can really do, unless you hire someone to make a more qualified guess.

    I have had a few drops in my traffic due to Google, but it has mostly been due to my doing, for example after I switched to xF I noticed a drop, and after I reorganized my forums lately I noticed a drop. I really don't know much about SEO, except for a few of my own experiments, and what I have read around the internet. I did have fun with my experiments though, but they were slow moving, cause they take a while to update. I think I spent 3 - 4 months just "optimizing" my guest message on my front page, it could probably be done faster, but I wanted to see the result of my minor changes. Not everyone can afford to play around like that though.
  11. Chime

    Chime Member

    Tried the following ?

    <!--googleoff: snippet-->Your Notice<!--googleon: snippet-->
  12. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    If this is default Xenforo behaviour I think it's a bug.
  13. TheBigK

    TheBigK Well-Known Member

    I investigated this and it turns out that Google decides what snippet to show depending on the search query. That's strange. I'm more inclined towards putting a text based introduction in the ad_below_top_breadcrumb template.
  14. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Notices should never show up in Google, IMO.
    There must be a way to prevent it, or SEO exploit it ! :)

    The purpose of a Notice is a temporary message.
    It might often be something you don't want indexed.
  15. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    Just load the content via js and google will be unable to read it. Or use the googleoff snippet, though that will only work for Google. Search engines doesnt care if the content is temporary or not, they just care about the content. This is why you should use global notices sparingly, or try to use the notifications addon for global notices.

    You can also use notices to improve on page SEO. It is not a bug, or a feature, or whatever, it is how Google handles text, and they are very good at figuring out what pages are relevant to your search, you should expect them to improve the descriptions to make them more relevant as well.
  16. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    What if google indexed a joke notice about Porn ?
    Will that hurt your Google stats ?

    This is an unintended consequence with much more potential downside than upside.

    By what people have said, I think Notices might benefit from an option:
    Allow indexing by Google ? [Y/N]. If no, it will use <!--googleoff: snippet-->Your Notice<!--googleon: snippet-->
    coppermine likes this.
  17. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    If your website is about porn, a notice about porn wouldn't do any harm. If you have a completely unrelated notice visible to all guests, of course it will hurt your rating. Which is why I said that you should use global notices for guest sparingly, or use something like the notifications addon by Chris.

    You are allowed to use html in notices, if you want to turn google off for it, just include the google off snippet. Why do you need an option for that? Besides, it is a specified statement that is only working for Google, not any other search engine. If you really want to stop search engines from indexing your notices, only display them for members. If you want a signup message, move it to the sidebar, and have a fancy notice on your frontpage.
  18. Brandon Sheley

    Brandon Sheley Well-Known Member

    The easy fix if you're at all concerned with this is to make your notice an image.
  19. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    I respectfully disagree with that. I use it as a welcome notice to our users.
  20. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    I use as that, but I only have it visible on the front page. I do not use global notices, cause those require allot of config and tweaking before they are applicable as global notices. For my call to action (register stuff) I use one of my submitted resources (/shameless advertising) and notifications by Chris, cause those are loaded via js and not visible to search engines at the top of my content...

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