Improving Search Visibility: Controlling Snippets in Search Results

Improving Search Visibility: Controlling Snippets in Search Results

A snippet is the descriptive summary displayed in Google Search and other properties, like Google News. Google primarily uses page content to automatically generate the snippet but may also use the meta description element if it better describes the page.

How Snippets are Created

Snippets are auto-generated from page content to emphasize and preview the most relevant information for a user’s search. Google might display different snippets for different searches. The meta description HTML element can also be used by Google if it provides a more accurate description than the on-page content.

Preventing or Adjusting Snippets

To prevent snippets from displaying or adjust the snippet length, use specific meta tags:

  • To prevent a snippet: use the nosnippet meta tag.
  • To set the maximum snippet length: use max-snippet:[number] meta tag.
  • To exclude specific page parts from a snippet: use the data-nosnippet attribute.

Best Practices for Meta Descriptions

Google sometimes uses the <meta name="description"> tag to generate a snippet if it offers a more accurate description than the on-page content. A good meta description is a concise, relevant summary that convinces users the page meets their search intent.

  • Unique Descriptions: Ensure each page has a unique, accurate description.
  • Relevant Information: Include essential details in the description like author, date, price, or product details.
  • Quality Over Keywords: Avoid long keyword lists and prioritize clear, descriptive content.

Examples of Improved Meta Descriptions

  • Bad (list of keywords): <meta name=”description” content=”Sewing supplies, yarn, colored pencils, sewing machines, threads, bobbins, needles”>
  • Better (detailed description): <meta name=”description” content=”Get everything you need to sew your next garment. Open Monday-Friday 8-5pm, located in the Fashion District.”>
  • Bad (same description for every news article): <meta name=”description” content=”Local news in Whoville, delivered to your doorstep. Find out what happened today.”>
  • Better (specific to the news article): <meta name=”description” content=”Upsetting the small town of Whoville, a local elderly man steals everyone’s presents the night before an important event. Stay tuned for live updates on the matter.”>
  • Bad (doesn’t summarize the page): <meta name=”description” content=”Eggs are a source of joy in everyone’s life. When I was a small child, I remember picking eggs from the hen house and bringing them to the kitchen. Those were the days.”>
  • Better (summarizes the whole page): <meta name=”description” content=”Learn how to cook eggs with this complete guide in 1 hour or less. We cover all the methods, including: over-easy, sunny side up, boiled, and poached.”>
  • Bad (too short): <meta name=”description” content=”Mechanical pencil”>
  • Better (specific and detailed): <meta <meta name=”description” content=”Self-sharpening mechanical pencil that autocorrects your penmanship. Includes 2B auto-replenishing lead. Available in both Vintage Pink and Schoolbus Yellow. Order 50+ pencils, get free shipping.”>

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