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I have been trying to work out what the actual difference between <meta name="description" content=""> and the schema.org item description that I am using itemprop="description" within my product.

I know the meta description tag should be a summary of the whole page, however, can I copy the summary/conclusion part of the description (which is added as itemprop="description" in my product page) and make it meta description?

Will this hurt my site or help it?

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The two are part of two different standards. They shall never meet. For the HTML Description Meta-Tag, that would describe the entire page. For the Itemprop Description, that would apply to only the content segment you are marking up.

There may be cases where it is appropriate that they are the same such as a product page within an e-commerce site. It is all up to you and what you think is right for your users.

Always create content for your users and not machines.

There is no effect if these two elements are identical or not. While the HTML Description Meta-Tag is used for weighting a page within a search engine and can potentially be used as a search engine results page (SERP), that is the extent of the HTML element. The Itemprop Description will not be taken into account the same way. The intent of mark-up is to mark-up segments of your content as data so that it can be properly read and ultimately parsed into a database. Google, for example, will trust what it is seeing more when the content is marked-up. This has limitations of course. For now, it does help with the semantic understanding of content and what to do with it in regard to better search results.

For these reasons, both should be the best you can devise for whatever purpose they serve.

  • Thanks for detailed explanation. I have been adding same content in both of these and lately my product pages are dropping out, in fact some of them are considered similar to other pages and are being filtered/omitted. Do you think this is the reason? – Adarsh Khatri Jul 6 '16 at 4:21
  • @AdarshKhatri Duplicate content is determined on the aggregate. This answer explains it some: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/88955/… Mark-up should not be an issue. However, content can be. The more content and unique value you can add, the better. It is possible that for some pages, they are too similar to others and are filtered out. This particularly happens with similar pages due to URL parameters. Canonical tags really help with this. Cheers!! – closetnoc Jul 6 '16 at 4:30
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itemprop="description" is meant to describe a specific logical entity within a dom element with itemscope defined. While it can be the same as the meta description tag it should in fact be different, especially if there are multiple itemscopes within the page. If there is only one then there is no issue with having the same description for both itemprop and <meta>.

It won't hurt your page or SEO and you should bear in mind that simply having itemprop doesn't necessarily mean that it will be used by Google or that the rich content will be accepted as it is an algorithmic decision made by the crawlers. It is based on what the crawler detects as keywords as well as detecting the itemscope.

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