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August 4, 2021

What is multiple title or description metatag problem and how to fix it

Accepted guidelines state that a web page should have just one title metatag and one description metatag. Here we describe the effect that multiple occurrences can have, and how to fix them to avoid any negative SEO issues.

What is the 'multiple title or description meta tag problem', and how to fix it?

You may not even be aware that your site has an issue with multiple title and/or description metatags. But it can be eroding any SEO efforts and lowering the ranking of your site.

This issue will typically be indicated by Google search console.

Like many aspects of SEO, every positive element can give you a minuscule advantage over the competition. And likewise, every negative element can have the opposite effect. This is why it's so important to take advantage of every small 'SEO win' that you can.

The issue with multiple <title> tags

There is a multitude of ways that a search engine may react to instances of multiple <title> tags. Here are some of the most likely:

  • Search engines choose one of the <title> tags at random.
  • Search engines concatenate them together. This looks bad and is unclear to the user.
  • Search engines ignore multiple <title> tags on your page, and create their own tag from the page's content.
  • And everything else... e.g. the search engines may do something completely unexpected.

Try to avoid this duplicate <title> issue. SEO is hard enough, before adding needless technical SEO errors.

How to fix multiple <title> tags

To begin with, you will need to work out two things:

  • What is causing multiple title tags to appear?
  • Which <title> tag is the correct one for the page?

It may be that the software used to generate the HTML has an issue. It could be a conflict between plugins. If you have a more complex site, it may require a coder to 'debug' the issue.

After this, you will need to ensure the title tag is formatted correctly and contains SEO-compliant text. When fixing the issue, always ensure when removing one of the title tags, that you leave one in place!

What is the <description> metatag and is it important?

Here is an example of a meta description in the HTML:

<head>
  <meta name="description" content="Home furniture at super prices">
</head>

Google will include your chosen meta tag description on its results page around 30% of the time. The rest of the time Google chooses other snippets from the page's content.

In the early days of the internet, the meta tag description was vital in helping search engines understand a page's content.

This has changed a lot over the years, and the description is now a lot less important than it used to be. However, as we've seen, Google still uses it around 30% of the time, meaning it should still be thought about and optimised.

The issue with multiple <description> tags

Like with duplicate <title> tags, there is no one clear answer on how a search engine will treat this issue. It is likely to be less of a critical issue than multiple <title> tags. However, it still necessitates attention as it may confuse the search engines.

How to fix multiple <description> tags

Officially, they are called “Meta Description Elements” in formal HTML definitions.

Firstly, you need to identify the cause of the problem. If you are using Yoast or another similar SEO plugin then you should find detailed instructions online in the relevant help section.

Duplicate metatags sometimes appear in paginated pages when using these types of plugins.  The issue can therefore be fixed by adjusting the template setting for each type of page. In any case, you want to ensure that only one correct <description> metatag remains, and the others are removed.

Summary: managing <title> and <description> meta tags on your website

It makes sense to remove any duplicate meta title or description tags. They contribute towards good SEO and the cost/reward benefit is good. You should optimise these tags as well as removing any duplicates to maximise their ranking potential. An SEO professional could help you with this. Likewise, you can actually use Labrika to optimise & remove duplicate meta tags, at a fraction of the cost.

When optimising these tags you should always make sure to match the keywords in the tags with the content on your site and overall topic of the site.

We have a very useful “Interactive Content Optimizer” that will tell you what keywords to use to increase your rankings based on what other top competitors in the top 10 are utilising.

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