Search giant Google is now going to grant site owners the ability to edit and customise how their site content is previewed within the search results.
Google has always generated its own previews by default and this has been based on what the search query was, how it matched the site’s content and what device was being made to conduct the search. As these were always generated by Google, there was no way for site owners to customise how these snippets appeared, only whether to allow a textual preview or have no preview at all.
As a result of this change, the search company will now be introducing different methods to allow for a more fine-tuned way of configuring content shown within the previews in the search results. These will involve the use of robots meta tags and a new HTML attribute. How to use these methods can be seen in this post from the Google Webmaster Central Blog from Tuesday.
The update will only be affecting how the snippets are displayed within the search results. Google has confirmed that changes to these settings will have no impact on the rankings themselves. However, depending on how the site owner makes the preview look, they could have a slight impact in terms of click-through rate, which could then have an impact on traffic.
While there will be no impact on rankings, there will be an impact on Featured Snippets. These depend on the preview content, so should this be limited by a site owner or set to no longer be eligible for displaying, it may be difficult for the site to attain a Featured Snippet.
There will be no difference to the previews depending on the device being used, meaning that any changes will be applied to both desktop and mobile search results. If a site has these two formats as separate entities, then the same mark-up should be used on both versions.
Furthermore, Google has stated that the settings chosen by the site owner will not be treated as a suggestion, hint or wish by Google, and it will abide by these preferences.
Google has stated that the meta tags preview settings will come into effect at some point in October, with it currently being expected to be launched during the mid-to-end of the month. It could then take a week or so for a global roll out after the initial launch. The HTML attribute feature will be introduced later in the year, with no specific timeframe being given.