Google‘s latest ‘Search for Beginners’ video is a crash course on how to create effective snippets for search results.
Given that the information is geared toward beginners, what’s covered in the video may already be known to experienced SEOs.
If you’re new to SEO, or want to refresh your knowledge of search snippets, here is a quick recap of the video.
Importance of Search Snippets
A search snippet is the primary piece of information searchers use when deciding which result to click on.
A Google search snippet is more than just a meta description. A “snippet” refers to both the title and description, as well as other important information about the web page.
Beyond a title and description, a snippet could include:
- Date the page was published
- Author of the page
- Price of a product
- Whether a product is in-stock or not
- And so on
Page titles should describe what the page has to offer, while a good description is a one or two sentence summary of the content on the page.
Google’s Recommendations: Writing Titles & Descriptions
When writing page titles, avoid vague terms like “home” for home page. Also avoid long titles as they may be truncated in search results
Use descriptive terms in titles, but don’t be repetitive or use excessive synonyms. Doing so could look spammy to Google and searchers.
Using unique titles for each pages is important. Many content management systems allow you to manually enter your own page title.
How Google Generates Search Snippets
The snippets you see in search results are auto-generated by Google. Snippets aim to emphasize the content on a page that best relates to a user’s specific search.
The same page might show different snippets depending on the searcher’s query. Google tries to pick a relevant and helpful title and description.
That means, even if you manually write out all your titles and descriptions, Google may still choose an alternative depending on the query the user entered.
There are two ways of influencing hot Google generates a snippet: rich results and meta description tags.
This video focuses on only on meta descriptions, as a separate video was already made about rich snippets.
Google’s Recommendations: Meta Descriptions
Google says a good meta description is a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about.
Google suggests thinking of a meta description as a “pitch” to convince a potential customer to visit your website. As such, they should be distinctive and relevant to each page.
There’s technically no limit to how long a meta description can be, but they will be truncated in search results as needed.
For more guidance on search snippets, see Google’s full video below:
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.