Here we go again with the Google lessons dedicated to beginners on the search engine, but that are also useful to refresh some important themes to make SEO and to understand which are the areas that the search engine considers of interest. Today the video uploaded to the Google webmasters channel tells us about the preview snippets of the SERPs and tells us how to edit them to get the best results.

Textual snippets in the SERPs

When your site appears among search results pages, Google shows a text snippet, that is a title and a short description of the content of the page: this opens up the new episode of Search for beginners, which first explains how to write and how a well-optimized title and meta description look, and then goes on to analyze how Google actually generates snippets in SERP.

The value of snippets

The snippets are the primary piece of information to convince a user to click on one result instead of another, because they represent the first level of interaction between a site and potential customers. For this reason it is important to take strategic care of the creation of these contents and provide titles and descriptions relevant to our pages, as we commented a few weeks ago about a research that analyzed how much this aspect really mattered to make organic traffic.

How does a good title look like

The theme of the SEO titration has been at the center of various focus in recent months– in particular after some statements by John Mueller on the management of H1– but the YouTube video focuses specifically on the tag title, which is – as we know – what appears in SERP.
According to Google, a page title is effective if it describes concisely what we have to offer and a “good title describes what we offer”; the example given is “sporty kids clothes” for an online kids clothing boutique.

Tips and mistakes to avoid in titles

We must avoid too vague terms (for example, it is not recommended to use “Home” as the title of the home page), but we must also pay attention to the length of the title, because too long texts can be truncated in SERP. To be precise, we have to stay between 60 and 70 characters tops, even if Google evaluates size based on the graphic display and then counts the pixels (the limit is 600 px).

Little focus also on the use of strategic keywords: it is allowed the use of descriptive terms, but we do not have to be repetitive or use excessive synonyms: these tactics do not help users and may seem spammy in the eyes of Google and potential customers (We also talked about this in our article on mistakes with titles).

Finally, it is important to use different titles on each page so that users know exactly where they are on the site. If we are forced to use the same title, Google recommends considering using different snippets on each page to help distinguish them among search results.

How do nice descriptions look like

The video then goes on to outline the best practices for descriptions, which should be brief and relevant summaries of the content of a specific page. We can consider them as a bait to convince a potential customer to visit our site.

An effective description should be composed of one or two sentences that summarize the content of the page; taking the previous example of the online shop of children’s clothes, a valid content could be “browse through a Variety of clothing for all your kids activities”.

According to Google, there is no length limit imposed for the meta description, but in reality the snippets shown among the search results are truncated as needed (and usually the length varies between 145 and 160 characters).

Indications to write a good meta description

It is not necessary to write a meta description in the form of a sentence and you can adapt the content according to the characteristics of the site. It is once again the video to report that, for instance, a product page can show details, price or indication of the manufacturer, while a news site or an informative blog can list the author or the date of publication.

The same applies to the titles: each page of the site should have a distinctive and relevant meta description to that page. However, if we do not have time or way to create a unique description for each page, we can try to prioritize the contents, or at least a description for the home page and the most popular and strategic pages.

Google’s rules about snippets

We can control what Google shows for our sites by searching for a query and adding the name of the site. The video invites us to note that the title and the snippet shown may be different depending on the queries.

The snippets in fact are created automatically by Google to emphasize the contents of a page that best tie to the specific search of a user (to make them closer to his search intent, we can say). Therefore, the same page can appear in SERP with different snippets for different searches.

Moreover, even if we write title and meta-description personally, Google still decides what to take and show, establishing what is most appropriate and relevant according to the specific query of the user.


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