This is a guest article from Anton Krokhmal, who is a SEO Specialist at a #Ukrainian agency, Netpeak. In this article, 7 Lifehacks to Increase the Clickthrough Rate of a Page and its Position in Google Search Results, he discusses snippet elements in Google and share life hacks that will help use certain elements to improve article ranking in search and, as a result, increase traffic.
What are search snippets?
First of all, let’s take a look at what a search snippet is.
A snippet is a short description of a page or document in the search results. It consists of 3 main elements:
- document or page address (URL);
- header (title);
- descriptions or annotations of the document.
It looks like this:
The snippet can be rich and consist of more than just the three main elements.
Here are some examples:
Hypothetically, it is possible to divide the elements of the snippet into 2 blocks:
- The elements, which cannot be obtained without the developers’ involvement, for example, micro-markup of products, breadcrumbs or some ratings.
- The elements, which can be obtained without the involvement of developers. The functionality would be available from the admin panel of the most popular CMS, and every content manager or editor would be able to implement it.
Now let’s move on to some practical recommendations for the construction of a search snippet, which are important to consider when compiling and publishing an article.
1. Basic elements
Use CNC (human-readable URLs) for addresses of the website pages. If you don’t have breadcrumb markup set up, then CNC will make the search snippet more attractive. So red-dress is better than ‘product RDW123245’.
1.2. Page Title
The Title tag is an HTML tag that tells search engines and visitors what your page is about. This tag is displayed not only in the search results but also on the browser tab and social networks. Please note that titles must be unique for each page.
<title>This is what the title tag looks like</title>
The page title is not only a significant element for SEO, it is important in terms of the user journey as users are more likely to click when they see their search phrase.
When composing titles for pages, follow a few simple guidelines:
- include the main keywords for the page
- put the important part in 7 words and 70 characters
- concisely and clearly state in the title what a particular page is about
- avoid unnecessary words that take up space
- use Google’s recommendations and common sense.
1.3. Page description
The description of the page in the search snippet is nothing more than the meta tag description.
<meta name=”description” content=”This is what the description meta tag looks like“>
If the page has a description metatag and it matches the user’s query, then it will be displayed as a description of a page. If Google considers that the description does not match the request, it will compose it from the content that is available on the page. Google will do the same thing if the page does not have a description at all.
When composing a description, it is also worth following a few simple rules:
- fill in the description for every page
- stick to using unique descriptions for each page
- present information distinctly and concisely
- try not to exceed the volume of 135 characters
- use Unicode characters to grab attention, but don’t overdo it.
A few words about the use of coloured Unicode characters. Google displays the colour Unicode in the description in the following two cases:
- if Google “understands” this character;
- if the character is available in HTML decimal code format.
2. Extended elements
All the options for generating a search snippet described below are related to the layout of the body of an article or a page. This requires minimal knowledge of HTML.
2.1. Quick links
Officially, Google states, that it only shows useful links. For your article to meet this criterion, you need to follow these rules:
2.1.1.Add content in the format of anchor links to the articles. Thanks to this, your content can get into site links.
2.1.2. Use useful linking in articles where it is appropriate. Plus, links to other pages of the site can also be included in the search snippet as shown in this Wiki example:
2.2. Table Search
This is what a “table” output looks like in a Google search.
Another version of the rich snippet was obtained thanks to the table on the page. To get such a search snippet, format the data using tables, specifying the <table> HTML tag.
2.3. Microdata markup
Microdata markup, or structured data, is the markup of content on a website page that is used by search bots to better understand the content. For example, when using contact data markup, search bots will easily determine phone numbers, emails or addresses if the data on the page is marked up accordingly.
Visually, nothing changes for page visitors, since the markup is in the page code. Often these are either attributes of HTML tags or a separate code in JSON-LD format.
If you are creating an article and do not have access to other site tools, the easiest way would be to use the schema.org dictionary and the microdata syntax.
You can find the specific data that can be marked up for rich search results in the Google guide.
The most popular are:
- article or blog post
- questions and answers
For each type of data, there are examples on the schema.org vocabulary site that are easy to interpret for your content. For example, recipe markup is located at https://schema.org/Recipe, at the bottom of the page you will find examples with different syntaxes.
Use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to test the code and walk through some examples.
When implementing microdata, it is important to fill in all required fields. If any of those fields are not filled in, the testing tool will indicate an error and show which field is missing.
Sometimes it is not possible or even inappropriate to add some required fields to an article. For example, you need to specify your blog logo, but adding it to the article may be irrelevant if the article is not about your blog logo. In this case, you can specify the logo via the meta tag. The usage format is as follows:
<meta itemprop=»name» content=»Content for the missing field name»>
Google likes good-quality, complete, and well-formatted content. Therefore, to get beautiful and rich snippets, follow these basic rules:
- fill in the title tag and meta description tag using the keywords of your material
- generate a CNC (human-readable URL) for the article page
- use relevant and useful links on pages
- use tags correctly when laying out text: for tables – the <table> tag, for lists – the <ul> or <ol> tag, for headings – the <h1> – <h6> tag, etc
- use microdata where it’s possible.