Snippets are becoming the primary way of getting your site noticed in Google SERPs. They have become more advanced in recent months, with Google rolling out structured snippets (also known as ‘rich’ snippets) to offer users more insight into what’s lying on web pages before they visit.
Do a quick Google search of any topic, and you’ll notice that each website on the results page has a title and short description beneath it.
Titles that draw your eye are likely to be clear and informative, usually indicating the brand or organisation and what that particular page is about. The description, meanwhile, should clarify the page’s purpose further and give you a reason to visit it over others. Accurate and engaging descriptions strengthen a site’s credibility and help to reduce bounce rates.
In addition, a well written snippet helps Google to understand the content on your website. Whilst it’s not certain whether or not this contributes towards your ranking, it’s nevertheless an important feature to get right. There are several things Google takes into account when creating a site’s organic search result, and we don’t have control over all of them. But the snippet is one thing we do have control over.
Your snippet should be written to appeal to people, while still getting the most important data across for Google’s machines to read. It is made up of a few components; the most important being the title and the description.
A page’s meta title is one of the fastest ways users will decide whether or not that site is relevant to them. It needs to be snappy, concise, and informative. Be sure to include one or two keywords based on your site’s niche. Businesses based in a specific location might also want to include this in their page title.
A typical meta title might look something like this:
Keyword | name of business | location
(Vertical bars are a useful way break up your title for added readability.)
Snippet titles are limited to a certain width – going beyond that can lead to your title being truncated. However, it’s difficult to judge exactly how long your title will be, as even the letters you use can make a difference. It is usually best to keep it to fewer than 70 characters.
Your page’s title will also not appear identical in all searches. This is because Google will bold certain words that are relevant to the user’s search query. Bolded words will affect the length of your title and so this again will determine its appearance.
When you’ve given your page a suitable meta title, it’s time to move onto the description. A quick summary of your page or post content, in just two or three sentences, is essentially all that’s needed to let users know what you’re about.
When writing the description, you should:
• Include one or two keywords that you are trying to target. Do not stuff your snippet with keywords; you want to remain informative and focused.
• Keep it to 156 characters long at the most, including spaces. If you go over the limit, your description will end with an ellipsis (…). If Google decides to display a date in your search result, this will count against your character limit. So the very cautious might want to stick to 139 characters.
• Write in standard grammar, using appropriate punctuation and capitalization.
• Keep your meta descriptions varied for every page and post on your site, as Google hates duplication.
With additional data aside, the snippet remains the main focus for drawing users to your site and can be the difference between increased traffic and being passed over for a competitor.