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Why Is My Meta Data Not Showing In Google Searches?

Problems With Missing Title, Meta Descriptions With All-In-One SEO For WordPress

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If your WordPress site is indexed, but the meta data is not showing in search engines, there is obviously a problem somewhere within your website -- either in the coding, some incompatibility with a plugin, or your search engine optimization is not up to par.

This article assumes that you are using All-In-One SEO on your WordPress website, your content is good and your site is properly optimized, but still performing poorly in search engines. It is extremely important to understand that a plugin may work fine on one website, and not on another. How your site is built, how plugins interact with each other, and whether or not your are updating software and plugins can all play an important role in how well your site performs in search engines.

Three Signs Your Site May Have An All-In-One SEO Plugin Issue

  • Your website is being indexed, but is not showing up in any searches;
  • You may see the page/post title instead of the meta title;
  • Meta descriptions do not match what Google is showing in search results.

About Open Source, Free Plugins

Free plugins are one of the big pluses when it comes to using WordPress. There are plugins to create everything from robots.txt files to site maps to creating image galleries and fancy banners. But plugins also have their downsides.

Most developers work hard to keep their plugins up-to-date by making improvements, changes, and enhancing security when necessary, but not all do. And, if you are not regularly monitoring your WordPress site for version updates as well as plugin updates you could be leaving a wide open door for hackers.

Another problem with plugins is that, when WordPress versions are updated, some plugins may no longer work properly. This appears to be the reported case for some using All-In-One SEO.

The Ever Popular All-In-One SEO Plugin For WordPress

Unfortunately, what was once one of the most reliable WordPress plugins for novice users to add meta titles, descriptions and keywords to their sites appears to have suffered in a recent WordPress version updates. All-In-One SEO adds a form to each page or post where the admin can fill in desired keyword phrases and descriptions. This information is automatically embedded into the page/post source code for search engines to read.

Since WordPress version 3.1 was released, I have seen an increase in the number of sites using All-In-One for search engine optimization experiencing troubles with their websites' meta information not appearing properly in search engines, especially in Google.

Problems With All-In-One SEO

If you use this plugin and either your website never ranks on a newly launched site, appears to be blacklisted, or shows incorrect meta information here are a few things you can do to assess exactly what is going on:

  • Perform A Site Index Search. Check to see what Google (or any search engine) has indexed about your website by searching on the term "site:www.yourdomainname.com" (omit the parenthesis and insert your own domain name) -- this will show you the URLs, titles, and descriptions a search engine has indexed. If your meta data is not showing up, you may have an issue with the plugin. It is important to remember that Google does not guarantee it will use your suggested meta data -- but it usually will if your website has been properly optimized.
  • Fetch As Google. Create a Google Webmasters account to see if Google is reporting any other problems with your website. You can also use the webmaster tools to view the site as Google Bot sees your site (in webmasters, select Health + Fetch As Google.) Normally, if Google Bot can see your meta data it will index it, however, I have read in several webmaster forums All-In-One SEO users reporting that Google Bot can see the meta data just fine, but still refuses to use it.
  • Check The Source Code On Your Page. If you use Firefox, simply open any page to your website or WordPress blog and right click your mouse. Select "View Page Source." This will show you the code, including the meta information about your page. In the code, simply look for "title" in brackets to locate the meta title of the page/post. This is what search engines should be able to see. How To Check Source Code In Internet Explorer] If you do not see your meta data in the source code, neither can search engines. Check to make sure your plugin is activated and that you have actually entered in meta data.
  • View Rich Snippets. Enter in a URL to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets. Google will show you what meta data it sees as well as report on other information about a specific web page. If you see your meta data in the rich snippets tool but not when you perform the site:www.domainname.com search, suspect the plugin.

Fixing The Problem

You have two issues to address -- finding another plugin and getting Google to reindex your website.

There are many plugins to that can help you manage meta data, but the one I prefer is called Yoast SEO Plugin. The reason is simple: It can import your data from All-In-One so you do not have to recreate it. Yoast will also delete the old plugin meta data. It also performs a wide variety of other tasks eliminating the need for additional plugins for site maps, robot.txt files, and even allows you to edit the HTAccess file.

No Matter what other plugin you select for SEO it is important to deactivate All-In-One when you have a new plugin all set up.

To encourage Google to reindex your website, resubmit your site map (if you have not done so recently) or update 10% or more of the sites' pages.

A Google Webmaster account will allow you to see when Google has visited your website, the page it has indexed, and the keywords associated with your website. It won't do you any good to resubmit the site for "reconsideration" unless your site was specifically flagged for some violation.

If you are not sure why your WordPress website' meta data is not showing in search engines, and you are using All-In-One, try swapping it out for another plugin. If you do not see an improvement in the showing of your meta data with a new plugin in two-three weeks, you may need to consider hiring a professional SEO company to assess why your site is not working.

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