What is a snippet?
You do a search for “underwater basket weaving” and you are provided with 10 organic and 10 paid ads (and maybe Google Maps/Local results) – called the SERP – Search Engine Results Page. That “stuff” that shows up on the SERP is the snippet from the website that Google, or any search engine returns.
The basic components of a snippet are the title, URL and description. This is made up of the page meta data/tags – title and meta description! There is a possibility, depending on your website and the type of snippet that it might include rich snippets such as reviews/rankings, your Google+ page, site links, history and maybe some other notes.
The title character max is 70 but that varies depending on the search engine, so a good rule of thumb is 60 characters. The description character max (yes spaces count) is 155-165 again depending upon the search engine so maybe stick to 155. When you go over, the search engine cuts it off.
Further, it is imperative to use the keywords that the page/blog is about IN the snippet for maximum SEO value. Not only that, but when someone does a search and you are lucky enough to have your website selected to show on the SERP, if your snippet doesn’t include that keyword, the search engine will use content from your page on the snippet… and it doesn’t always look pretty! The search engines will also bold the keywords entered into the search bar.
Let’s look at some snippet examples
- For example, in the below example, the top/first snippet is Wikipedia and it didn’t have a meta description tag so Google pulled text from the content and cut it off where it wanted, to include the keyword. Notice that there are also site links (at the bottom of the snippet)
- In the second example, it happened to be a blog page and this person didn’t use his meta description tag so, again, Google selected the content from his blog. Also, his title tag was <title>Awesome and Epic Sports Association: Underwater Basket Weaving</title> which is 62 characters. Google rearranged the title to include the keyword phrase searched first and added the rest of the title tag to the end, however it was shortened. This is shown by the “…”
- In the third example, the title was <title>15 weird college courses: Underwater basket weaving | MNN – Mother Nature Network</title>, obviously too long but luckily cut off appropriately. As you can tell, the meta description was within the character limits at 145 and fit nicely. Also, it included the keyword, bold faced, so win win.
The cool thing for WordPress users
So the really cool thing if you have WordPress, there are plugins that work really nicely and help you do all the work. The one I happen to use is WordPress SEO by Yoast and it provides an actual preview as well as warns you when your SEO title or description is too long. I added characters to mine, below, to show you that it will warn you when it’s too long. It’s a good idea to stay within the limits.
I hope this has been helpful to cover what a snippet is, why you want to use a plugin to help (unless you know code) and how it can benefit you in the long run.
Let me know your thoughts on this and if you would like more information, a consult about your website or help in getting your website showing up in search with search engine optimization, contact me, I’d love to help.