Should Google Stop Showing Enhanced Snippets?

Sep 29, 2010 • 8:22 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

I am wondering if Google should stop trying to show enhanced snippets without the aid of enhancing those snippets via microformats and RDFa markups. I often see complaints, since Google began showing dates in snippets and other data in snippets that Google was wrong. It is often the case, when you look at post counts, dates, comments and other data points labeled in the search results where Google is wrong.

Of course, if you are marking up your HTML then by all means but not automatically when it is all so often wrong.

Bill Slawski wrote a complaint about this. It made it on Sphinn and Google Webmaster Help, where Googler JohnMu replied.

His complaint:

I noticed this weekend that Google was displaying a date of "Mar 8, 2005" at the front of the snippet for my home page, on a search for my business name "SEO by the Sea" (without the quotation marks). The date appears to have been randomly selected from a blog post excerpt that was appearing on the home page. That date wasn't the date that the excerpted blog post was filed, but rather was the "filing" date of an Apple patent on Apple's approach to Instant Search that I blogged about.

He is not the only one in this boat. I see complaints about this all the time.

John from Google replied saying:

I passed this issue on to the team when I initially read your blog post. I agree that it could be a bit misleading and I think it would be wrong to suggest that you change the content that you write about (such as not including dates) in order to prevent our algorithms from picking the wrong dates to show next to the snippet.

Overall, I feel we do a reasonable job at finding and using the right dates, but sometimes it's not that simple for our algorithms (and sometimes much easier for humans :-)). We're constantly working on improving our algorithms, and from what I've heard, there are also improvements planned for better finding the best dates within the content.

I guess they would know if they do a reasonable job - but I see many many complaints on this topic. I see it almost every day.

Forum discussion at Sphinn and Google Webmaster Help.

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Michael Martinez

09/29/2010 03:37 pm

What is more alarming is the fact that many people are now converting their blogs to NOT include dates in the post URLs so that their ancient content has a better chance of appearing higher in competitive search results. This tactic will not help users who need to find current information about important topics. Many people in the SEO community resort to publishing light and/or often incorrect content because it's easy to generate. I hope this dumb idea doesn't become one of the accdepted "best practices" of the industry.


09/29/2010 03:49 pm

Google have been enhancing the snippets for years. What goes in there can be from the content, the meta description, DMOZ, a referring link/page or a combination of all of them. Maybe the dates addition has struck the wrong cord. I actually removed dates from my pages so they didn't show up there.

richard falconer

09/29/2010 04:09 pm

Alternatively, they could invent <meta name="googlebot" content="no-enhanced-snippet">

richard falconer

09/29/2010 04:11 pm

Alternatively they could invent meta to allow sites to prevent enhanced snippets being displayed.

Jaan Kanellis

09/29/2010 04:43 pm

Michael do you feel that the date of the document affects the CTR if it is included in the SERP? I do.

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