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I have recently made a simple (pure HTML) website. The most important key phrase that I want to capture is "full reserve banking". Currently, if I type "full reserve banking" (without quotes) into google, then my site appears as the 7th item on the first page. I am reasonably happy with this as the site is so new. But one frustration is that the text that google displays in relation to my site is rather misleading. The main message I would like to get across is that my site is "A collection of resources for anyone interested in this alternative monetary system." and I have this as the first line of text on the page. Unfortunately, this important sentence is nowhere to be seen in the google search result. So my question is - is there anything I can do to fix this error?

Edit: I noticed that someone edited this question to remove the name of the website. I was very keen to leave it in because being able to look at it makes it far easier to diagnose what I did wrong. Indeed the answer suggested by "Su" clearly shows that they looked at my website and analyzed what it was doing which helped them give a clearer answer. If I am breaking some policy by including the name then please explain what this policy is in a comment.

Edit: I have now made a series of changes to my meta descriptions as inspired by the answers given here. On the homepage I now have the text:

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="A collection of resources for anyone 
interested in Full Reserve Banking. What it is, how it works, 
web resources, organisations, research papers etc.">

I am now very excited to see what will happen after the next visit by the google robots.

Edit: Result! I just did a google search for "full reserve banking", and the text that appeared was:

  Full Reserve Banking: The definitive resource.
  A collection of resources for anyone interested in Full Reserve Banking. What it is,
  how it works, web resources, organisations, research papers etc.
  www.fullreservebanking.com/ - Cached

By the way, I did originally have a meta description - but it was too short, it just said "full reserve banking". Google obviously assumed this was too little and so chose to use its own algorithms to cook up a different sentence from the main text.

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The website URL was removed because your question would be too localized. If the question is more abstract it can remain as it is. –  John Conde Jun 18 '11 at 20:30
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I did a search for that phrase, and your site comes up with "Full Reserve Banking" as both title and snippet. I'll assume this is what you're referring to.

You can suggest what to show for the snippet by providing a meta description tag. Here's Google's own documentation on that. It's important to keep in mind this is a suggestion, however. Sometimes Google will use an excerpt from the actual page content instead; there's not much you can do about that.

As to your immediate situation, that's easily explained. You are providing a meta description already, and it's set to what you're seeing. Basically: Google are showing exactly what you're telling them to. Whether you were aware of that or did it intentionally, I can't speculate.

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Loved the little video on the google link you provided. Thanks. –  Mick Jun 19 '11 at 10:10
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Google will choose your search results snippets from the following places (not necessarily in this order):

  1. The page's Meta Description tag
  2. The page's Open Directory Project (ODP) Listing
  3. Page content relevant to the search query

If you do not want Google to use the ODP listing's description then you can tell them not to do so with the following Meta tag:

<meta name="robots" content="NOODP">

If you want to encourage Google to use your Meta Description tag then make sure it is unique to each page. Also make sure it contains an accurate description of the page's content.

In thew absence of an ODP description and Meta Description tag, Google will use a portion of the page's text as the description. This text will contain the closest matches to the search query.

On a related note, if you don't want a snippet to be shown with a particular page you can use the following Meta tag to prevent one from being shown:

<meta name="robots" content="nosnippet">
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