Multiple Language Meta Descriptions / One Page

During a post implementation design review today, the design and implementation failed to meet the basic one requirement of the enhancement. The requirement was to ensure the site in question would respond to Katakana characters when searched through google.co.jp. The english title of the site is returned quite high, but when using the Katakana characters it fails.

The site in question is english only and so it mostly makes sense that it fails in google search results for Katakana. So the requirement was how to make the site appear utilizing Katakana.

Technical Solution

The developer went off and designed and implemented a solution. The solution relied upon the Accept-Language header in HTTP request to load a resource file and return a Katana localized version of the title and description if the preferred language is Japanese. Logically, seems to make sense. Change the default language on the browser and get the localized content.

Except there is a hole in the solution you can drive a bus through. When the googlebot crawler indexes sights it doesn’t have different crawlers for google.com versus google.co.jp versus other localized google sites. It has a single googlebot that indexes pages and doesn’t provide a language header. With the change, google would not appear to have interpreted the page in any way different, which is the case because it doesn’t get any different HTML.

From the Google Webmaster Blog we know content negotiation is bad.

@Simon Content negotiation is bad because search engines will only be able to see one of the versions (and might never see the other one). Also, many users (including me) don’t like it when they click on a search result that is not shown in the same language as their query (and the snippet) (actually, I personally don’t just not like it, it makes me quite mad :-)).

SEO Solution

Examining that the technical delivery failed, I backed up from there on the original solution concept.

The solution concept was to just add the Katana characters after the title and as a second description. According the the following information who experimented upon other results found, as expected, that google ignores multiple meta-description tags. It points to other article about partial success in google summaries using more relevant sentence from multi line description.

So the point of this is to try and see how multi languages will work in context of a description. Will update with results.

Update 1

The first launch failed miserably because the theme is not setting or pulling in the meta title or description fields.

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