Google Delivers On Webmasters Request To Control Search Result Snippets

Sep 25, 2019 • 8:35 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

I am not sure if you remember, but back in May Danny Sullivan shared screen shots from a Google Ranking Fair where he shared SEO and webmaster concerns. One of those concerns was "Webmasters want more control over sitelinks, titles, snippets, mixing images and text in featured snippets, rich snippets, knowledge panels, opt out of featured snippets and more." Well, now we got it - Google announced we can control our snippets in more ways than just not showing them.

Google announced last night that it is giving webmasters more control over their search result snippets. You can now not only decide if you want Google to show a snippet or not, but also define the length of the snippet, control how much of a video snippet is shown, and the size of an image to be displayed in the snippet. I covered this in detail at Search Engine Land last night as well.

Here are the new controls:

  • "nosnippet"
    This is an existing option to specify that you don't want any textual snippet shown for this 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".

You can use this as standalone meta tags or combine them, so you can use something like this:

click for full size

There is also a new data-nosnippet HTML attribute for this that looks like this:

click for full size

Google has updated its robots.txt docs to add this new support to it.

Sadly there is no way to preview the changes before you make them live, at least not yet said John Mueller of Google:

Danny Sullivan said this has nothing to do with Google's needs and this does not impact your rankings. This is just a display thing. You can show more or less of your snippets, but again, this is not a ranking thing.

But does this really have nothing to do with a need Google has to fill? Marty shared with me a screen shot of a new notification he received today from Google Search Console that discusses snippet controls and French law:

These new controls launch mid-to-late October - notice the timing here...

Also, this is only for organic snippets, not for ads:

Can you use this to force Google to use your meta description? Technically maybe, maybe someone should test it out when it goes live at the end of October?

Google will let us know when this is fully live, but for now, you can prepare your pages - if you want to.

In summary:

  • You can now control the length of your snippets, the video length, and the size of the images in the snippets.
  • It does not impact your rankings.
  • It launches mid-to-late October.
  • Google will let us know when it starts to roll out.
  • No way to preview these before adding them to your markup.
  • Might be related to some new EU laws?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: I asked Danny Sullivan if the EU thing kind of expedited this release and he just said it is a global release, not specific to the EU:

Update 2: Danny said this is unrelated:

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