Blogspot Duplicate Meta Description: Managing This Once and for All

Saturday, March 17, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 15 Comments

What does “duplicate meta description” mean for Blogspot or Blogger blogs? I have asked that question once myself and sadly, I did not bother to find out. Soon enough, my PageRank suffered and went down from 2 to 1. Ouch! But just recently, I learned about Google Webmaster Tools and found out what a duplicate meta description is, how duplicate meta descriptions can affect the PageRank of Blogspot blogs, and what can be done to amend this issue.

What are duplicate meta descriptions?

A meta description is a description of your blog or website that you will not see on your page, but it is the description that search engines, such as Google, will read and use in their search results. However, search engines are not perfect. For instance, in Blogspot or Blogger blogs, a meta description used for the homepage may just be used for all other pages. Although you have no intention of duplicating the meta description for all the pages of your Blogspot blog, Google will interpret it as such. And the result is a penalty: your PageRank will suffer and you may not appear as one of the top results in Google Search.

For Blogspot, the meta description and meta title are usually by default: what you enter as the description of your blog while you set up your blog is usually the meta description. Sometimes, the first few sentences of your blog post will become the meta description. And if Google thinks you have the exact same meta description for ALL your blog posts, then your Blogspot blog is in deep trouble.

How does Google Webmaster Tools detect duplicate meta descriptions?

Google Webmaster Tools helps troubleshoot problems in your blog’s HTML code. It also tells you a lot about how Google search engine “sees” your blog. It gives tips on what you should do to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your Blogspot blog. And one of the things it does is detect any duplicate meta descriptions.

Once you have logged on to Google Webmaster Tools, go to Diagnostics, then click on HTML suggestions. There, you will see if you have any duplicate meta descriptions. Mine showed these stats before I updated my blog:

Duplicate meta descriptions

WOW. How could there be so many duplicate meta descriptions? If your Blogspot or Blogger blog is suffering from this dilemma, read on to find out how to solve this problem in very easy steps.

Why do I get duplicate meta descriptions?

There are two reasons why you get duplicate meta descriptions on Blogger or Blogpost blogs:

  1. Blogspot blog comments get their own permalink (URL). (To look at the permalink of your comments, simply go to any blog post that has a comment and with each comment, you can see that the timestamp has a link.) This means that there is a separate page on your blog for all the comments you get – and all these pages simply repeat the information that is originally found in your blog post. In other words, even the meta description is repeated.
  2. Blogspot blogs have an archive system. These archives also repeat the information found in your blog posts, because they simply organize all your blog posts under the same month or week. That means you have several pages in your blog that Google thinks is the exact duplicate of your individual blog posts!

Do duplicate meta descriptions affect a Blogspot blog’s SEO?

Definitely. Google, no matter how trusted they are in terms of their search engine, is not perfect. It can’t tell the difference between archives and comments and individual blog posts; all it knows is that you have duplicate meta descriptions in all of these. As far as Google is concerned, two different pages in your Blogspot blog that have the exact same information are both considered to have duplicate meta descriptions and other duplicate content issues.

How do I solve duplicate meta descriptions in a Blogspot blog?

We already know what’s wrong with Blogspot blogs: they have comments with links and they have archives. Therefore, you need to somehow deal with both issues, enumerated in the simple steps below. The solutions below are not airtight, but they should decrease the number of duplicate meta descriptions in your Blogspot blog.

  • Log on to your Blogger account, then go to Dashboard > Design > Edit HTML. Download your full template before proceeding, just to be sure. Then, search for <head> and after it, add this script:
    <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>
    <meta content='TYPE THE DESCRIPTION OF YOUR BLOG HERE'
    name='description'/>
    <meta content='TYPE YOUR KEYWORDS HERE' name='keywords'/>
    </b:if>

  • Save your template. Then, check the box right beside “Expand Widget Templates”. Find the following script on your blog:

    <a class='timestamp-link' expr:href='data:post.url'
    title='permanent link'><data:post.timestamp/></a>


    And delete this script. Or if the code above doesn’t appear, just look for this code:

    <a class='timestamp-link' expr:href='data:post.url' title='permanent link'>

    then delete it until the very end of this code:

    </a>

    Then, paste this in the place of the code you just deleted:

    <data:post.timestamp/>

    NOTE: There may be more than one incidence of the above code in you html, so try deleting all of them to make sure that your comment timestamp has no link.

    Aside from that, look for this code in the HTML of your Blogspot blog:

    <a expr:href='data:comment.url' title='comment permalink'>

    and delete it until the very first occurrence of

    </a>

    Then, paste this in the place of the code you just deleted:

    <data:post.timestamp/>

    NOTE: There may be more than one incidence of the above code in you html, so try deleting all of them to make sure that your comment timestamp has no link.

    Then, save your template. That should remove the URL of the comment timestamp and it should appear as simple text. But if that doesn’t work, maybe you should just hide or delete the comment timestamp altogether.

  • To hide the comment timestamp on Blogspost blogs, find the script below:

    ]]></b:skin>

    and above it, paste this script:

    .comment-timestamp { display: none; visibility: hidden; }

    and save your template. Now, check your blog post’s comments if they still have timestamps. If they do, perhaps it’s best for you to delete the timestamp altogether. It’s going to make the comments a little weird, I know, but at least your Blogspot blog won’t have duplicate meta description issues.
  • To delete your comment timestamp altogether, simply look for the following script:
    <data:post.timestamp/>


    And delete all incidences of this if you find it more than once.

  • Now, it’s time for you to delete your Recent Comments widget. Yes, it looks really nice on your sidebar and it shows everyone how a lot of people frequent and comment on your blog posts, but it is seriously hurting the SEO of your Blogspot blog. Choose: having a recent comments widget but also having duplicate meta descriptions, or not having that widget but looking really good for Google? If you chose the latter, then you are a wise SEO follower.

    Simply go to Dashboard > Design > Page Elements, click on your Recent Comments widget, and click on Remove.
  • Next, it’s time to fix your Blogspot archives. Go to Dashboard > Design > Page Elements. Find your blog archive widget. Edit it and choose the Flat List option.

    Blog Archive flat list

    Then click on save.

That’s it! There shall be fewer duplicate meta descriptions on your Blogspot blog from now on. Don’t expect Google to update your PageRank immediately because it takes time for these things to start kicking in. But in a few months, your Google Webmaster Tools shall no longer find hundreds of duplicate meta descriptions on Blogspot blogs.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She maintains a health column in Health.Care Magazine and contributes to The Manila Bulletin. Add her to your circles.

15 comments:

  1. Just followed these instructions and got over that issue . Google Webmaster was showing a lot of fake descriptions for my blog .

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad to know the walkthrough on how to deal with duplicate meta descriptions helped!

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  3. I know this is not the place to ask. But is there any way to use such method for wordpress blog.

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  4. Thanks for this tutorial! Implemented your changes and learned a lot!

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  5. Khawer Khan, I can't answer your question because this is for Blogger. :) Thanks for leaving a comment, though!

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  6. i got problem with duplicate meta descriptions, try to implement your tutorial n see next day for better result :)

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  7. I hope the code gets propagated fast. Thanks for dropping by, Topijerami!

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  8. i just wanna say thank you ... i gonna try this !! ;)

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  9. Good luck! I hope you get rid of duplicate meta descriptions with the help of this blog post. :)

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  10. Thank you so much... about a week ago , only 2 duplicate meta description on my blog, now already 28..!! This might explain why my search queries fall down.. The price I must pay for change the theme without make any SEO things first... Thanks a lot Stef...

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  11. Glad to be of help! Feel free to like this article if it helped you. :)

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  12. Your article was very informative and interesting.
    I don't have the comments enabled. What Webmaster Tools is
    showing as duplicate on my blog are the labels!
    How could this be resolved?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, that's too bad. Labels/ tags in the Blogger platform can't be tweaked much, unlike comments and archives. I don't think there's a way to circumvent the problem without actually disabling the labels. :/ But if that's the only duplicate content you have, perhaps you can try sticking to just a few labels. (I, for instance, have only three to five labels per blog.)

    I hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete

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