Snippets and Titles
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Snippets and Titles


>>CUTTS: Hi everybody. I wanted to talk to
you a little bit today about snippets and titles. So Google tries to return the best
snippet, the most relevant snippet that we can so that–and the snippet is what–whenever
you type, say, flowers in the search results. What we show for, you know, a given website,
the title and the description underneath it, that we call a snippet. And we want it to
be as relevant as possible. So if someone types in flower, we compute what we call keyword
in context or quick snippets. And the idea is just that we want to know–we want to tell
users whether that page is going to be useful. And we can do that by highlighting some of
the places that flowers occur on that page, if that’s what you typed in for your search
query. So if we only show the first 50 words for the page, that wouldn’t be useful to let
you know whether you want to click through or to it. So we’ve always had the policy that
we try to show useful snippets and useful titles. It’s funny because in the old days,
some people used to call them ransom note snippets because they were like, “Oh, it’s
stitched together from random places of the page.” But users really appreciated it. Even
though it took a lot more computer power, we were willing to say, “Okay, that’s when–we’re
willing to put in that computing power to compute a relevant snippet specifically for
that query. For a different query, the snippet for that page would look different. By the
same logic, we’ve been willing to show the titles that we think are most useful. For
example, suppose the title of your page is Untitled or if there is no title. If that’s
the case, we try to show a relevant useful title. So there’s lots of different heuristics
that we can use. In addition, if you sort of have the same meta description across all
over the different pages on your site or if you have the same title across all the different
pages in your site, then we reserve the right to try to figure out what’s a better title,
what’s a more descriptive title or snippet to show to users. And then finally, if you
have a title that’s really, really long and has a bunch of different page–bunch of different
words in it, we may still use that in our scoring. But when we’re ready to show the
snippet to the user, we may try to find a better title. So I think webmasters have gotten
used to the idea that the snippet can change based on the content of the page. We can sometimes
use the open directory project snippets. We can use snippets from the page, you know,
keywords and context or we can use the meta description tag and we do a bunch of different
things to find the best description that we can. But webmasters are probably not as used
to the idea that we’re willing to find a better title as well. So if you have a bad title
or a title that we don’t think helps users as much, we can try to find a better title.
And one that we think will be an informative result so that users will know whether that’s
a good result for them to click on. So I just wanted to give people a heads-up about that
because they’re used to the idea of the things below the title changing, but they’re maybe
not as used to the idea that the title itself can change in our search results as well.

7 Comments

  • malditoweekend

    What a great explanation about snippets and Titles. Some webmasters don't understand how important a title of the page is and they keep "spamming" by over using the title tag to include all of their keywords.

    Now you know how Google treats this kind of black hat SEO or indirect mistakes.

  • Arsham Mirshah

    I'm going to assume there is a character or word count that can be triggered that flags for spam / black hat.

    Would love to hear from Matt on this one.

  • shufx

    I am seeing people keyword stuff titles and descriptions titles with 500 character and descriptions with 3500 characters and the pages are getting ranked. Even keyword stuffed titles and descriptions work. At least that's what a competitor is doing.

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