The practice of using dynamic page titles and meta descriptions & keywords throughout a website is common practice among very large websites. It simplifies the process of giving each page unique titles and descriptions.
For example, let’s say a website sells clothing. It may have a standard page title that says something like:
“[clothing article] available from Widget Clothing”
It may then have a dynamic meta description along the lines of:
View pricing and info for [clothing article] and see what sizes and colors are available to ship for free from Widget Clothing.
All of that is fine and dandy…if all of it is true.
Now let’s look at a popular website that incorrectly uses dynamic titles and descriptions that mislead potential customers with blatant false advertising.
I was looking for an old cartoon I use to watch as a kid (Talespin) to show my son since he likes airplanes and such. I looked to see if it was available to stream online from the more popular websites including Netflix, Amazon Instant, etc. I came to this landing page on Netflix:
https://signup.netflix.com/Movie/Talespin-Vol.-1/70051959 (not an affiliate link…I don’t affiliate with companies that lie to customers)
The page title is “Netflix – Watch Talespin: Vol. 1 Online”.
The meta description is “Watch Talespin: Vol. 1 Streaming Instantly right to Your PC, Mac or TV with Netflix. Unlimited Movies & TV Shows. Only $7.99 a month. Free Trial.”
Sounds fair enough, right? I signed up and then tried to “Watch Talespin: Vol. 1 Online” and guess what? I couldn’t. It’s DVD only.
I looked at other landing pages for other DVD-only movies and saw the exact same page title and description format:
Page Title = “Netflix – Watch [movie/show] Online”
Meta Description = “Watch [movie/show] Streaming Instantly right to Your PC, Mac or TV with Netflix. Unlimited Movies & TV Shows. Only $7.99 a month. Free Trial.”
Blatant. False. Advertising. Period.
This does nothing but frustrate and alienate potential customers. It also causes some people (cough, me) to blog about it and reveal how a company such as Netflix is ignorantly (I’d hate to think purposefully) using lazy, dynamic code to mislead people. It would be extremely easy for them to pull variables into the titles and descriptions to show whether the show was available for streaming, DVD, or both to be truthful and provide a better user experience that would make the sales funnel much more clear. Heck, if they wanted to be truthful at all they would say whether the title was streaming, DVD, or both on the actual landing page. How hard would that be??? (That’s a rhetorical question…)
The bottom line is this, if you are using or plan to use dynamic titles and descriptions throughout a website, make sure they are factual and provide the best user/customer experience. Do not mislead and lie. It’s bad for the user and bad for business. Netflix is a prime example of what not to do in this case.
Oh and Netflix, you disappointed my son too. It’s hard to explain false page titles and descriptions to a four year old. Though it was a good lesson for me to teach him what not to do. Lie.