Now Google lets you customize your search result snippets

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By default, Google has always created search snippets based on user queries and the types of devices they use. However, there was no room for customization in previous years. It was only possible to permit a textual excerpt or not to allow it. Now, Google introduces several methods that allow for finer configuration of the preview content displayed for web pages.

These methods, therefore, include the use of the meta-tag “robots” as well as a brand new type of HTML attribute. Here is more information about each of these methods.

Configure search extracts with the Meta robots tag

The Meta tag for robots allows you to use a specific page-specific approach to control the indexing and display of an individual page in search results. It is placed in the <head> section of a given page.

The content displayed in the text search preview previews (content description) can now be configured using robots meta-tags. And this, to indicate a maximum number of 50 characters for the textual summary (max-snippet: 50) of presenting the content with a large image (max-image-preview: large).

We can, therefore, admit that the size of the meta-description tag will no longer be the same for all Google results, i.e., an average of 160 characters. Its length may depend on whether or not the “max-snippet” attribute is added.

All you need to know about these changes

No change in search ranking:

This thing will only influence the way how snippets are shown in search results. Google confirms that these settings will have no effect on search rankings.

Depending on how a site owner selects to configure these settings, there may be an impact on the Click-through Rate (CTR), which could then have an impact on the traffic. But this is not related to search rankings.

When do these changes come into effect?

The meta-tag robots preview settings will take effect between mid-October 2019 and the end of October 2019. It may take a week for the overall deployment to be completed once it starts. The HTML attribute “data-no snippet” will be effective later this year. No specific time frame has been planned for this particular parameter.

Will these new changes affect the way enriched results are displayed?

The content of structured data that is allowed to get displayed as a rich result will not be changed by any of these new settings. Site owners already have control over the content displayed in the enriched results because they choose to include themselves in the structured data.

How will these changes affect featured snippets or optimized snippets?

The featured snippets depend on the availability of the preview content. So, if you put a heavy limit on the preview content, it may no longer be good to be viewed as an optimized snippet, although it may still be displayed as a regular snippet.

The minimum number of characters needed for a featured snippet varies by language. That’s why Google cannot provide an exact length “max-snippets” to ensure eligibility.

Can site owners experiment with the length of the extract?

Site owners can absolutely adjust these settings at any time. For example, if you specify a maximum extract length and decide later that you prefer to display a longer snippet in the search results, you can simply edit the HTML attribute.

Google notes that these new methods for setting up search preview previews will work in the same way as other search results around the world. If the settings are changed, your new preferences appear in search results the next time Google crawls the page again.

Google will follow 100% these parameters:

These new settings will not be treated as tips or suggestions.

Google will fully respect the preferences of site owners as specified in the robots Meta tags and the HTML attribute.

No difference between desktop and mobile settings:

Preview preferences will be applied to mobile and desktop search results. If a site has separate mobile and desktop versions, the same mark-up must be used on both.

These new options for the Meta robots tag are now available to site owners, but changes will not be applied in search results until mid-October.

Rich snippets, better known as rich snippets, are a great way to stand out from the competition in search results and, as a result, improve your SEO. To display these rich snippets in a search result, you must use microformats in your site code, called structured data. Here are some advantages to setting up structured data:

Increased organic visibility: your excerpt displayed in the search result takes up more space, it attracts more eye of the user,

Increased CTR: In addition to the increased visibility, additional items such as reviews, the price of a product or its availability will encourage users to click on your site,

Increased conversions: for example, thanks to reviews in an excerpt that will add extra credit to your product/service.

What is rich snippets and structured data?

A rich snippet is a search result enhanced by additional information in addition to the title, URL, and Meta description. There are several types; you will find the most popular uses below. The additional information in the search result varies depending on the content type and is retrieved via the structured data, of which there are also several formats (JSON-LD, Microdata, RDFa). For more technical details, you can turn to Google support.

Not to be confused with the featured snippets

A featured snippet (or rank zero in SEO jargon) represents an excerpt from a page that sometimes positions itself at the top of the search results. It answers a specific question and allows the user to find what he is looking for directly in the results. Its location may change according to the requests, but its visibility is much more important than the standard results.

How to use structured data and set up rich snippets?

As for the implementation of these structured data, three different formats are available to you: the JSON-LD (recommended by Google), the microdata and the RDFa. You will find a detailed description of each format and relevant references (mainly in English) at the end of the article.

Here are the steps to follow when you want to set up structured data on your site:

Identify the microdata format that best suits your situation

List the relevant fields starting with the priority elements: the schemas that will appear in the rich snippet or not, for example, the schema Person can be extremely interesting to appear on featured snippets, but this schema will not appear in the rich snippet.

Set up and watch for microdata by Google through Search Console

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