Google is giving site owners the ability to customize how their content is previewed in search results.
By default, Google has always generated search snippets according to the users’ queries and what types of devices they’re using.
However, there was previously no room for customization – it was only possible to allow a textual snippet or not allow one.
Now, Google is introducing multiple methods that allow for more fine-grained configuration of the preview content shown for web pages.
These methods include using robots meta tags as well as a brand new type of HTML attribute. Here’s more information about each of these methods.
Configuring Search Snippets With Robots Meta Tags
Content shown in search snippet previews can now be configured using robots meta tags.
The following robots meta tags can be added to an HTML page’s, or specified via the x-robots-tag HTTP header:
- “nosnippet” – This is an existing option to specify that you don’t want any textual snippet shown for a page.
- “max-snippet:[number]” (NEW) – Specify a maximum text-length, in characters, of a snippet for your page.
- “max-video-preview:[number]” (NEW) – Specify a maximum duration in seconds of an animated video preview.
- “max-image-preview:[setting]” (NEW) – Specify a maximum size of image preview to be shown for images on this page, using either “none”, “standard”, or “large”.
The above robots meta tags can also be combined, for example:
<meta name=”robots” content=”max-snippet:50, max-image-preview:large”>
New data-nosnippet HTML attribute
Google is introducing an all-new way to limit which part of a page can be shown as a preview in search results.
The new “data-nosnippet” HTML attribute on span, div, and section elements can prevent specific parts of an HTML page from being shown within the textual snippet in search results.
In other words – if you want to prevent Google from giving away too much of your content in search results, this is the method you want to use.
Here’s an example:
<p><span data-nosnippet>Harry Houdini</span> is undoubtedly the most famous magician ever to live.</p>
In this example, if someone were searching for a query like “most famous magician,” the HTML attribute would prevent Google from giving away the answer (Harry Houdini) in search results.
What SEOs and Site Owners Need to Know
Here’s a rundown of need-to-know information regarding these changes.
No changes to search rankings
This update will only affect how snippets are displayed in search results. Google confirms these settings will have no impact on search rankings.
Depending on how a site owner chooses to configure these settings there may be an impact on CTR, which could then impact traffic. But that is not related to search rankings.
When do these changes come into effect?
Preview settings for robots meta tags will become effective in mid-to-late October 2019. It may take a week for the global rollout to be complete once it starts.
The data-nosnippet HTML attribute will be effective later this year. No specific timeframe was provided for that particular setting.
Will these new changes affect how rich results are displayed?
Content in structured data that is eligible for display as a rich result will not be affected by any of these new settings.
Site owners already have control over content displayed in rich results by what they choose to include include in the structured data itself.
How will these changes affect featured snippets?
Featured snippets depend on the availability of preview content. So if you limit the preview content too heavily it may no longer be eligible to be displayed as a featured snippet, although it could still be displayed as a regular snippet.
The minimum number of characters required for a featured snippet varies by language, which is why Google cannot provide an exact max-snippets length to ensure eligibility.
Can site owners experiment with snippet length?
Site owners can absolutely adjust these settings at any time. For example – if you specify a max-snippet length and later decide you’d rather display a longer snippet in search results, you can simply change the HTML attribute.
Google notes that these new methods of configuring search snippet previews will operate the same as other results displayed globally. If the settings are changed, then your new preferences will be displayed in search results the next time Google recrawls the page.
Google will 100% follow these settings
These new settings will not be treated as hints or suggestions. Google will fully abide by the site owners preferences as specified in the robots meta tags and/or HTML attribute.
No difference between desktop and mobile settings
Preview preferences will be applied to both mobile and desktop search results. If a site has separate mobile and desktop versions then the same markup should be used on both.
Some last notes
These options are available to site owners now, but the changes will not be reflected in search results until mid-to-late October at the earliest.
For more information, see Google’s developer documentation on meta tags.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark