Google has announced new opportunities for managing SEO snippets. From October 2019, website owners and webmasters can now customise Google snippets. Regardless of the website specifics, you now can add images and video previews, change the content length and the size of a thumbnail image.
Despite Google ensures the updates won’t affect website positions in search results, eCommerce owners worry about their visibility on SERPs. We asked our Promodo SEO specialists what are their thoughts on the Google novelties and how these can impact your click rate.
What is SEO snippet
An SEO snippet is a concise summary of your web page content which displays under a title and a URL of your page in search results. It helps search engines better understand what your page is about and show your content for relevant queries. Structured data markup is added to your existing HTML code by webmasters. SEO snippets can be ‘normal’, ‘rich’ and ‘featured’, depending on the arrangement.
Rich snippets imply displaying extra data in search results. For example, you can add ratings, images, prices, a search box or site navigation with the help of schema markup.
Featured snippets are usually displayed in search results in answer boxes. These are also known as Rank Zero. Search engines identify and extract the most relevant answer to a users’ question within your webpage content and display this above the organic results. However, shopping queries almost always don’t have answer boxes.
What Google Has Changed In SEO Snippets?
Google allowed webmasters to specify the content-size in SEO snippets. Thus, website operators can now choose which type of content will be displayed in search results — text, image or video.
Here are four robots meta tags that you can add to your HTML page from October 2019:
- “nosnippet” — you can specify whether you want to show snippets for a webpage or not;
- “max-snippet:[number]” (NEW) — you can manually set a maximum length of text content for a snippet in characters.
- “max-video-preview:[number]” (NEW) — you can set a maximum duration of an animated video preview;
- “max-image-preview:[setting]” (NEW) — you can specify a maximum size of an image in your snippet (“none”, “standard”, or “large”.)
These robots meta tags may also be combined.
Webmasters can change the SEO content in snippets if irrelevant images or video were extracted. In terms of search engine marketing, you can run A/B testing trying different formats of snippets to improve the click and conversion rates.
In eCommerce, these updates can help you drive more traffic and stand out from your competitors in search results. But along with that, these can lead to negative consequences.
The Pitfalls Of Customisable Snippets
The distribution and volumes of organic traffic have changed over the past few years. eCommerce owners who used to dominate the search results noticed a CTR and traffic decrease. Such indicators were resulted by Google’s decision to expand the ad coverage in search results from 3 to 4 ads. Thus, the organic positions of the TOP websites shifted down.
In most cases, you can see only three organic snippets on the first Google page. According to a recent study of the average click-through rate (CTR) for paid and organic results, SEO snippets which are displayed under the fifth position already receive low traffic. In some cases, users do not scroll to the 9th or 10th search results at all. This means the eCommerce competition for organic positions becomes fiercer than ever before.
Today, the snippet size depends on the length of an SEO title, description and structured data. On average, a title is 55 characters long, and a description is 160-165 characters long. The Schema markup allows you to add extra elements, such as prices and ratings, which take a good deal of a SERP. Could this mean that if your competitors expanded their snippets, your website would shift down and lose clicks?
Here’s what our Promodo SEO specialists think:
Google’s statement that the update won’t affect the website ranking is only partially true. Sure, longer snippet content won’t impact your organic positions but may decrease your CTR, which is, in turn, a crucial ranking factor for Google, — say Maksim Misichenko, an SEO expert at Promodo.
Sweeping changes are expected in search results, especially in a competitive environment. Almost everyone will tend to surpass their rivals in snippet originality. Now, this seems that customisable snippets will be of all shapes and sizes — 1 or 4 lines long, with images or video previews, and so on. But all these SEO experiments may lead to minor results since this will be difficult for users to make a decision where to click within this total mess.
I think that the Google updates will significantly impact the competition within search results, — say Tanya Podus, an SEO specialist at Promodo, — Say, if a website owner decided to follow these novelties and expand the snippet in paid search, this would affect positions of other TOP-3 websites. And the websites positioned 7th and lower may lose their clicks all together.
Now, we can see four ads in the commercial search results. Depending on the niche, there are only two or three organic websites on a SERP. If each ad would include a large-sized snippet, there could remain only one organic website on a page.
Customisable snippets for eCommerce
eCommerce websites are now also able to add images or video previews in the SEO snippets. This option was available only within Google Shopping before.
If an online store implements a snippet template which will insert images from product cards/pages into snippet content, this can significantly increase their conversion and click rates.
Imagine that a woman is searching for a pink coat and entering the query “Pink coat London”. Snippets with coat photos will undoubtedly attract her attention more. And she will click a website link with a shot of the coat which she liked the most.
Images and videos in SEO snippets can also benefit eCommerce blogs where you can cover information search queries.
To Sum Up
Google’s customisable rich snippets were met with a mixed reception from SEO experts. On the one hand, webmasters now can customise snippets, add images and video previews, as well as change the length of the content. On the other hand, these updates can negatively affect your website click rate within search results since the expanded snippets may occupy more area on the SERP, and your position can visually shift down.
Anyway, this is a perfect solution to surpass your competitors and attract more customers to your website. Contact our Promodo SEO experts if you would like to experiment with customisable snippets and achieve better results.