We participate in weekly Google Webmaster Central Office-Hours to keep up-to-date on search engine optimization (SEO) and web best practices.
As you may know, Google changes its algorithm daily. (The algorithm is the formula Google uses for your business to be found in Google search engine return pages (SERPs).) Yep, DAILY. So, it’s important to keep up with the latest Google news.
New on Google: Three New Snippets
Recently, Google introduced three new snippets. But before we get into that…
What’s a Google Snippet?
In Anatomy of a Google Snippet, Stephen Spencer wrote, “Google defines a snippet as ‘a description of or an excerpt from the webpage.”
Simply put, the snippet refers to the description portion of a Google search listing. Up to now, it doesn’t include the title (at the top) and it doesn’t include the URL (web address)— found just below the title.
Here is an example of our search results with the rich snippet in yellow.
Rich snippets display additional data beyond normal Google search results. This is possible do to structured data which is pulled from a page’s html code. The words at the bottom of the snippet in the example—about, services, testimonials, and case studies—are rich snippets.
Three Benefits of Rich Snippets
Rich snippets offer three advantages:
- They take up more real estate on the page—blocking out competitors.
- Probably most important, rich snippets tend to improve click through rates (CTR). In other words, more people will visit your website, blog, or content. In 9 Tips for Ranking in Google’s Featured Snippets, Neil Patel noted that research has shown content with featured snippets gets twice the normal CTR. Imagine doubling traffic to your site!
- The structured data that webmasters use to create rich snippets helps give you more control over how your website’s search results appear.
Commonly Used Rich Snippets
There are many options for rich snippets, but some common ones are:
- Recipes (name of item and photo at a minimum)
- Video (video, thumbnail)
- FAQ (question, answer, full text of question and answer)
- Product markup (eg, price, size, color, product images
Other snippets can include logos, articles, books, movies, job postings and more. Backlinko has more examples of rich snippets.
Three New Google Snippets
The three new Google snippets are:
- Max-snippet, written as “max-snippet:[number]”
- Max-video-preview, written as “max-video-preview:[number]”
- Max-image-preview, written as “max-image-preview:[number]”
New Max Snippet
The first new snippet meta tag allows you to control the character length of the text. This can be used, for example, in a meta description.
Max Video Snippet
The max video snippet applies to the duration of an animation preview for a video. This animated preview would be shown in your company’s search results.
Max Image Preview Snippet
The max image snippet controls the maximum size of the image preview for your page.
The snippets can be used alone or together.
If you want to learn more about these new snippets, check out Barry Schwartz’s recent article in Search Engine Land, Google’s New Snippet Settings Give Webmasters Control Over Their Search Listings Display.
How Does Structured Data Impact Your Search Rankings?
Structured data won’t directly impact how Google crawls and indexes your pages. What’s more, Google may not choose to feature your content as a rich snippet.
Google will try to give the user the best and most specific result possible, which may not be what you had planned! The results might even contain content from somewhere in the middle of one of your web pages.
However, the structured markup helps Google to “understand” what your page is about.
Here’s how structured data can indirectly impact your rankings. Suppose Google shows a rich snippet for your content. This may result in users engaging more with your content—clicking through and staying on your page. This will be a signal to RankBrain, Google’s machine learning, that you have great content. That CAN enhance your rankings.