Google should display more useful search results for Wiktionary that show definitions of words instead of the gibberish that currently appears. Google search results include page titles and page content snippets. The snippet, as Google calls it, is the part that needs improvement. I should point out that I am not trying to improve page ranking, only improve the service that Wiktionary provides. Right now, the snippet includes the first part of the page, such as etymology and pronounciation, but not the definition. Wikipedia has a similar problem, where text from infoboxes and image captions show up, rather than the descriptive first sentence of the article. This is something that Google should fix, but I think that we can meet them halfway by programically inserting definitions between meta tags.
Google recommends using meta tags with name=Description and content=foobar. http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35624 . does this properly by giving:
<meta content='F.U.B.A.R. is an acronym for: 1. F*cked up beyond all reason. 2. F*cked up beyond all recognition. 3. F*cked up beyond all repair....' name='Description' />
One possible solution is an extension at MediaWiki: MetaDescription.php. The only probem here is that each individual page has to be changed. We could take it a step further by modifying the extension to automatically add a meta tag with the first 150 characters of the first definition to the html output that a Google spider will read. I recommend output such as the following meta tag for foobar:
<meta content='F.U.B.A.R.: A serious mistake.' name='Description' />
Google shows good Wiktionary definitions when I search for "define:foobar." It seems to me that it would be easy for them to use the same results for their definitions feature as the snippets for their regular search results.
- Wiktionary:Votes/2008-06/Install MetaKeywords Extension
- Wiktionary:Beer parlour archive/2008/June#Googleability.
- Wiktionary:Grease pit archive/2008/January#Aiming for Google keyword define
- w:Wikipedia:Help desk/Archives/2009 January 21#How do I change a snippet?
Notice how the Google definition contains useful information, and the search snippet does not:
- : foobar. Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Jump to: navigation ... Retrieved from "http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=foobar&oldid=13278060" ...
- Google dictionary - foobar: A serious mistake; A metasyntactic variable name, a place holder for words; compare foo, bar