Q: The listings for my website don’t look very good. The titles and descriptions are weak in the summaries captured by these search engines. I have tried everything: writing new descriptive text on the page, correcting the meta description and page title, but the SERPS are not responding to the changes. The titles and summaries always stay the same.
A: Here are two possible explanations for the problem you’re having:
(1) Your listings may be showing titles & descriptions culled from directory listings rather than your page HTML Title & Meta Description. To find out your site has a listing on Yahoo! and Open Directory, try searching within those directories. Open Directory can be found at www.dmoz.org, and Yahoo! directory can be found at http://search.yahoo.com/dir . If the listings you see in those directories match the titles & descriptions that have been bothering you, then you’re in luck – this is an easy fix. In order to stop Google & Yahoo! from showing directory titles & descriptions in search results, you simply add a tag to the <head> section of the page instructing them not to do so. The format of the tag is this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noydir, noodp”>
The next time the robot visits your page, this change should go into effect and you’ll see your own titles & descriptions (or snippets from page content). For a full list of tags that you can use in the “robots” meta tag, see our page: How to Use the Robots Meta Tag.
(2) Another possibility is that the robots are coming to your site so rarely that you aren’t seeing your changes in place in a timely manner. This is possible if your site has no – or few – links pointing to it. To find out if this is your problem, you can do two things: look at the cached version of the page listing, by clicking on the small “cached” link that shows up in your Google listings. Here, you will see a date when Google last gathered the page. You can also find this information by signing up for Google Webmaster Tools and looking at the indexing statistics from inside the tool. If it turns out that your problem is a lack of visits, your best bet is to increase the number of links pointing to your site.