Do the changes in Google’s results snippets offerings affect your brand’s local search optimization efforts?

What you will learn in this post:

  • The new changes Google has made in its search snippets
  • Why site owners should utilize custom search snippets
  • How customizable search snippets affects local SEO

Speed and accuracy are paramount for search engine users. Google has built its algorithm around this premise, incorporating automated systems to concisely deliver the most relevant information.

Search snippets play an important role in informing a search user of a site’s contents before clicking through to it. In the past, these brief descriptions were automatically generated based on the users’ queries and the device they used (i.e. mobile or desktop). The downside of this was that site owners and their local marketing team had little control over this content. All they could do was allow or disallow a text snippet.

This fall, Google addressed this issue directly, rolling out a new markup that grants site owners more autonomy over the content of their search results snippets and how they are displayed. Here we will go over what is new in Google’s results snippets offerings and how these changes may affect your brand’s local search optimization efforts.

What Is New in Google’s Results Snippets?

Customization is the operating word for describing Google’s update to its search snippets feature. As a site owner, you can now closely configure the preview material for each of your pages via two new settings: the use of robots meta tags and HTML attribution.

Search snippet attributes you can now customize as part of your local search optimization include:

  • the character-length of a text snippet: “max-snippet:[number]”
  • the duration of video previews (in seconds): “max-video-preview:[number]”
  • the size of previewed thumbnail images: “max-image-preview:[setting]”

You can also restrict sections of text from appearing in a snippet to prevent giving away too much content in the search engine results pages (SERPs) by using a new type of HTML attribute called the “data-nosnippet” HTML attribute.

These may seem like minor additions to Google’s results snippets, but they empower brands to clarify their messaging across their site and landing pages. Best of all, site owners can adjust these settings at any time, and Google will quickly adhere to all changes.

Do Google’s New Snippets Features Impact Local Search Optimization?

While most site owners will embrace these changes without a second thought, you might wonder how they will affect your brand visibility from search queries. As of now, Google claims the new markup options will only affect how snippets are displayed (on both mobile and desktop), and not anyone’s search rankings. Of course, these changes have just recently gone into effect, and customizable snippets could eventually factor into local SEO rankings. 

Whatever the case may be, how you choose to customize your snippets may impact click-through rates positively or negatively, which could then affect traffic to your site and website conversion outcomes. There is also evidence that click-through rates in themselves are a SEO signal

So consider the importance of these previews for users as they scroll through organic search results. You want your snippets to inform them and entice them to enter your site. If a preview is poorly worded, irrelevant and/or cumbersome, users will likely look (and click) elsewhere. In this sense, then, customizing your search snippets can positively affect your organic local search rankings by increasing engagement and website clicks.

Automation has its merits, but most site owners want autonomy over their online presence, too. Now, with Google’s small updates to their search snippets, you can optimize your preview content for maximum impact.