Google Webmaster Tools Search Appearance Overview

Search Appearance Overview

Google Webmaster Tools Search Appearance Overview tutorial explains the importance of search snippets. This blog/article is a short introduction to Search Appearance Overview insights in Google Webmaster Tools.

This article on Google Webmaster Tools is a great way to understand the inner working of basic on page optimization and also how your website may show up in Google search results page (SERP) all webmasters and website owners should understand the results of Google search because then you can create better landing pages according to how Google search displays its results.

Title

Title

Create descriptive page titles

Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.
Here are a few tips for managing your titles:

  • As explained above, make sure every page on your site has a title specified in the < title > tag. If you’ve got a large site and are concerned you may have forgotten a title somewhere, the HTML suggestions page in Search Console lists missing or potentially problematic < title > tags on your site.

  • Page titles should be descriptive and concise. Avoid vague descriptors like “Home” for your home page, or “Profile” for a specific person’s profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search results.

  • Avoid keyword stuffing. It’s sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the title, but there’s no reason to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. A title like “Foobar, foo bar, foobars, foo bars” doesn’t help the user, and this kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look spammy to Google and to users.

  • Avoid repeated or boilerplate titles. It’s important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site. Titling every page on a commerce site “Cheap products for sale”, for example, makes it impossible for users to distinguish one page differs another. Long titles that vary by only a single piece of information (“boilerplate” titles) are also bad; for example, a standardized title like “< band name > – See videos, lyrics, posters, albums, reviews and concerts” contains a lot of uninformative text. One solution is to dynamically update the title to better reflect the actual content of the page: for example, include the words “video”, “lyrics”, etc., only if that particular page contains video or lyrics. Another option is to just use “< band name >” as a concise title and use the meta description (see below) to describe your site’s content. The HTML suggestions page in Search Console lists any duplicate titles Google detected on your pages.

  • Brand your titles, but concisely. The title of your site’s home page is a reasonable place to include some additional information about your site—for instance, “ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle.” But displaying that text in the title of every single page on your site hurts readability and will look particularly repetitive if several pages from your site are returned for the same query. In this case, consider including just your site name at the beginning or end of each page title, separated from the rest of the title with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe, like this:
    < title >ExampleSocialSite: Sign up for a new account.< /title >

  • Be careful about disallowing search engines from crawling your pages. Using the robots.txt protocol on your site can stop Google from crawling your pages, but it may not always prevent them from being indexed. For example, Google may index your page if we discover it by following a link from someone else’s site. To display it in search results, Google will need to display a title of some kind and because we won’t have access to any of your page content, we will rely on off-page content such as anchor text from other sites. (To truly block a URL from being indexed, you can use meta tags.)

If we’ve detected that a particular result has one of the above issues with its title, we may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources. However, sometimes even pages with well-formulated, concise, descriptive titles will end up with different titles in our search results to better indicate their relevance to the query. There’s a simple reason for this: the title tag as specified by a webmaster is limited to being static, fixed regardless of the query. Once we know the user’s query, we can often find alternative text from a page that better explains why that result is relevant. Using this alternative text as a title helps the user, and it also can help your site. Users are scanning for their query terms or other signs of relevance in the results, and a title that is tailored for the query can increase the chances that they will click through.

If you’re seeing your pages appear in the search results with modified titles, check whether your titles have one of the problems described above. If not, consider whether the alternate title is a better fit for the query. If you still think the original title would be better.

Snippets

Snippets

Create good meta descriptions

The description attribute within the < meta > tag is a good way to provide a concise, human-readable summary of each page’s content. Google will sometimes use the meta description of a page in search results snippets, if we think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content. Accurate meta descriptions can help improve your clickthrough; here are some guidelines for properly using the meta description.

  • Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description. The HTML suggestions page in Search Console lists pages where Google has detected missing or problematic meta descriptions.

  • Differentiate the descriptions for different pages. Identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we’re less likely to display the boilerplate text. Wherever possible, create descriptions that accurately describe the specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and use page-level descriptions everywhere else. If you don’t have time to create a description for every single page, try to prioritize your content: At the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.

  • Include clearly tagged facts in the description. The meta description doesn’t just have to be in sentence format; it’s also a great place to include structured data about the page. For example, news or blog postings can list the author, date of publication, or byline information. This can give potential visitors very relevant information that might not be displayed in the snippet otherwise. Similarly, product pages might have the key bits of information—price, age, manufacturer—scattered throughout a page. A good meta description can bring all this data together. For example, the following meta description provides detailed information about a book.

  • < meta name="Description" content="Author: A.N. Author, Illustrator: P. Picture, Category: Books, Price: $17.99, Length: 784 pages" >

    In this example, information is clearly tagged and separated.

  • Programmatically generate descriptions. For some sites, like news media sources, generating an accurate and unique description for each page is easy: since each article is hand-written, it takes minimal effort to also add a one-sentence description. For larger database-driven sites, like product aggregators, hand-written descriptions can be impossible. In the latter case, however, programmatic generation of the descriptions can be appropriate and are encouraged. Good descriptions are human-readable and diverse, as we talked about in the first point above. The page-specific data we mentioned in the second point is a good candidate for programmatic generation. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don’t give users a clear idea of the page’s content, and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular snippet.

  • Use quality descriptions. Finally, make sure your descriptions are truly descriptive. Because the meta descriptions aren’t displayed in the pages the user sees, it’s easy to let this content slide. But high-quality descriptions can be displayed in Google’s search results, and can go a long way to improving the quality and quantity of your search traffic.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks

The links shown below some of Google’s search results, called sitelinks, are meant to help users navigate your site. Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.

Sitelinks2

1: The main search result
2: Sitelinks

We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them.

At the moment, sitelinks are automated. We’re always working to improve our sitelinks algorithms, and we may incorporate webmaster input in the future. There are best practices you can follow, however, to improve the quality of your sitelinks. For example, for your site’s internal links, make sure you use anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.

If you think that a sitelink URL is inappropriate or incorrect, you can demote it. Demoting a URL for a sitelink tells Google that you don’t consider this URL a good sitelink candidate for a specific page on your site. Google doesn’t guarantee that demoted URLs will never appear as a sitelink, but we do consider a demotion a strong hint that we’ll try to honor when generating sitelinks.

Demote a sitelink URL:

    1. On the Search Console Home page, click the site you want.

    2. Under Search Appearance, click Sitelinks.

    3. In the For this search result box, complete the URL for which you don’t want a specific sitelink URL to appear. (How to find the right URL.)

    4. In the Demote this sitelink URL box, complete the URL of the sitelink you want to demote. Once you’ve demoted or undemoted a sitelink, it can take some time for search results to reflect your changes. You can demote up to 100 URLs, and demotions are effective for 90 days from your most recent visit to the Sitelinks page in Search Console.

Search within a site

Search within a site

An improved search box within the search results

Webmaster level: All
Today you’ll see a new and improved sitelinks search box. When shown, it will make it easier for users to reach specific content on your site, directly through your own site-search pages.

What’s this search box and when does it appear for my site?
When users search for a company by name—for example, [Megadodo Publications] or [Dunder Mifflin]—they may actually be looking for something specific on that website. In the past, when our algorithms recognized this, they’d display a larger set of sitelinks and an additional search box below that search result, which let users do site: searches over the site straight from the results, for example [site:example.com hitchhiker guides].

This search box is now more prominent (above the sitelinks), supports Autocomplete, and—if you use the right markup—will send the user directly to your website’s own search pages.

Search within a site2

How can I mark up my site?
You need to have a working site-specific search engine for your site. If you already have one, you can let us know by marking up your homepage as a schema.org/WebSite entity with the potentialAction property of the schema.org/SearchAction markup. You can use JSON-LD, microdata, or RDFa to do this; check out the full implementation details on our developer site.

If you implement the markup on your site, users will have the ability to jump directly from the sitelinks search box to your site’s search results page. If we don’t find any markup, we’ll show them a Google search results page for the corresponding site: query, as we’ve done until now.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help forum.

Update (16:30h CET, September 12th): We’re noticing an enthusiastic uptick in the markup implementation after the initial announcement last week! Here are the two main issues we’ve observed so far, and what you need to do to fix them:

    1. Make sure that when you replace the curly braces and all that’s inside of it with a search term it leads to a valid URL on your site.
    For example: if your “target” value is “https://www.example.com/search?q={searchTerm}”, ensure that “https://www.example.com/search?q=foo” and “https://www.example.com/search?q=bar” both lead to search result pages about “foo” and “bar”.

    2. Make sure that the “query-input” field points to the same string that’s inside the curly braces in the “target” field.
    For example: if your “target” value is “https://www.example.com/search?q={searchTerm}”, you must use “searchTerm” as the “name” within “query-input”.

URL

URL

Keep a simple URL structure

A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers). For example, if you’re searching for information about aviation, a URL like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation will help you decide whether to click that link. A URL like https://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1, is much less appealing to users.

Consider using punctuation in your URLs. The URL https://www.example.com/green-dress.html is much more useful to us than https://www.example.com/greendress.html. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.

Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause a problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.

Common causes of this problem

Unnecessarily high numbers of URLs can be caused by a number of issues. These include:

  • Additive filtering of a set of items. Many sites provide different views of the same set of items or search results, often allowing the user to filter this set using defined criteria (for example: show me hotels on the beach). When filters can be combined in a additive manner (for example: hotels on the beach and with a fitness center), the number of URLs (views of data) in the sites explodes. Creating a large number of slightly different lists of hotels is redundant, because Googlebot needs to see only a small number of lists from which it can reach the page for each hotel. For example:

    Hotel properties at “value rates”: https://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292&N=461

  • Hotel properties at “value rates” on the beach: https://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292&N=461+4294967240

  • Hotel properties at “value rates” on the beach and with a fitness center: https://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292&N=461+4294967240+4294967270

  • Dynamic generation of documents. This can result in small changes because of counters, timestamps, or advertisements.

  • Problematic parameters in the URL. Session IDs, for example, can create massive amounts of duplication and a greater number of URLs.

  • Sorting parameters. Some large shopping sites provide multiple ways to sort the same items, resulting in a much greater number of URLs. For example:

  • https://www.example.com/results?search_type=search_videos&search_query=tpb&search_sort=relevance
    &search_category=25

  • Irrelevant parameters in the URL, such as referral parameters. For example:

  • https://www.example.com/search/noheaders?click=6EE2BF1AF6A3D705D5561B7C3564D9C2&clickPage=
    OPD+Product+Page&cat=79
    https://www.example.com/discuss/showthread.php?referrerid=249406&threadid=535913
    https://www.example.com/products/products.asp?N=200063&Ne=500955&ref=foo%2Cbar&Cn=Accessories.

  • Calendar issues. A dynamically generated calendar might generate links to future and previous dates with no restrictions on start of end dates. For example:
    https://www.example.com/calendar.php?d=13&m=8&y=2011
    https://www.example.com/calendar/cgi?2008&month=jan

  • Broken relative links. Broken relative links can often cause infinite spaces. Frequently, this problem arises because of repeated path elements. For example:

  • https://www.example.com/index.shtml/discuss/category/school/061121/html/interview/

    category/health/070223/html/category/business/070302/html/category/community/070413/html/FAQ.htm

Steps to resolve this problem

To avoid potential problems with URL structure, we recommend the following:

  • Consider using a robots.txt file to block Googlebot’s access to problematic URLs. Typically, you should consider blocking dynamic URLs, such as URLs that generate search results, or URLs that can create infinite spaces, such as calendars. Using regular expressions in your robots.txt file can allow you to easily block large numbers of URLs.

  • Wherever possible, avoid the use of session IDs in URLs. Consider using cookies instead. Check our Webmaster Guidelines for additional information.

  • Whenever possible, shorten URLs by trimming unnecessary parameters.

  • If your site has an infinite calendar, add a nofollow attribute to links to dynamically created future calendar pages.

  • Check your site for broken relative links.

Event – Rich Snippet

Event - Rich Snippet

Enabling Rich Snippets for Events
Event markup describes the details of organized events, such as musical concerts or art festivals, that people may attend at a particular time and place. Events that meet Google’s policy guidelines may be eligible for Rich Snippets in search results, as described in this document, as well as for display in Knowledge-Graph-powered features, documented separately.
Event Rich Snippets add one or more lines with structured details of upcoming events below your search result, like this:

Event - Rich Snippet2

Basic markup properties
The full list of properties for an event are described on schema.org/Event. Use the most specific applicable subtype of Event, such as ComedyEvent, Festival, FoodEvent, MusicEvent, TheaterEvent, or SportsEvent. Please mark up as many properties as you can, as they will help Google algorithms correctly index your pages. The following subset of properties is required to be eligible for Event rich snippets:

Event---Rich-Snippet2

Example Event markup for rich snippets
The following example describes some basic information about a music concert, including the name, date and time, location, and URL for more information.

You can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check that your markup is correct.

Event---Rich-Snippet3

Event-specific usage guidelines and policies
In addition to the general policies that apply to all rich snippets, the following extra policies apply for Event rich snippets:

  • Events in the past will not be shown as a rich snippet. Leaving them marked up is still recommended.

  • Since Event rich snippets are not meant for advertising purposes, your event name should not contain any promotional elements such as the price of the event, a call to purchase, or an indication of a sale or temporary discount. For sales events, use the equivalent markup but using schema.org/SaleEvent. Invalid event names:

  • Trip package: San Diego/LA, 7 nights (Don’t use rich snippets markup to promote non-event products or services.)

  • Music festival – only $10! (Instead, mark up ticket prices using the tickets property.)

  • Sale on dresses! (Non-event information)

  • Concert – buy your tickets now! (Promotion)

  • Concert – 50% off until Saturday! (Promotion)

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb trails on a page indicate the page’s position in the site hierarchy. A user can navigate all the way up in the site hierarchy, one level at a time, by starting from the last breadcrumb in the breadcrumb trail.

In the example below, the page thestand.html about a specific book may contain the following breadcrumb trail:

HomeBooksAuthorsStephen KingThe Stand

The last item in the breadcrumb trail – “The Stand” – leads to the page itself. The breadcrumb before that – “Stephen King” – leads to its parent page. The “Authors” breadcrumb leads two levels up the site hierarchy.

The breadcrumb trail may include or omit a breadcrumb for the page on which it appears. The following would also be a valid breadcrumb trail for thestand.html:

HomeBooksAuthorsStephen King

Pages may contain more than one breadcrumb trail if there is more than one way of representing a page’s location in the site hierarchy. The page thestand.html may, for instance, additionally contain the following breadcrumb:

BooksFictionHorrorThe Stand
When you mark up breadcrumb information in the body of a web page, Google can use it to understand and present the information on your pages in our search results, like this:

Breadcrumbs2

Properties
Breadcrumbs can contain a number of different properties which you can label using Microdata, RDFa markup, or JSON-LD. Google recognizes the following properties of a BreadcrumbList.

Breadcrumbs3

Examples
A breadcrumb trail may appear on a page like the following example:

ArtsBooksPoetry

The HTML code for the breadcrumb trail above may be:

Breadcrumbs3

The following basic examples specify a breadcrumb trail using microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. In case of JSON-LD, the script block may be inserted anywhere on the page – either in the head or the body.

Breadcrumbs5

Product – Rich Snippet

Product - Rich Snippet

Enabling Rich Snippets for Products
If you’re a merchant, you can give Google detailed product information that we can use to display rich snippets (for example, price, availability, and review ratings) right on our search results pages.

Using markup to enable rich snippets lets you:

  • Attract potential buyers while they are searching for items to buy on Google.

  • Control your product information. You can maintain the accuracy and freshness of your product information, so your customers find the relevant, current items they’re looking for.

    Event-Rich-Snippet2

This page explains how to mark up your product information so that Google can display rich snippets. There are two types of pages where you would typically use this markup:

  • a product page that describes a single product

  • a shopping aggregator page that lists a single product, along with information about different sellers offering that product

Examples for both types of markup appear below. See also the Reviews and ratings documentation.

About product offers
A product offer consists of product information (details about the product itself, such as its name, brand, and model) plus one of the following:

  • Offer (price and other offer information).

  • AggregateOffer (aggregated details about multiple Offers for the same product, including the lowest and highest available prices).

A Product can include an Offer or AggregateOffer (using “offers”); or an Offer or AggregateOffer can include one or more products (using “itemOffered”). Use the structure that works best for your content.

When you mark up your content for product information, use the following properties of the schema.org Product type:

Product---Rich-Snippet3

When marking up offers within a product, use the following properties of the schema.org Offer type:

Product---Rich-Snippet4

An AggregateOffer is a kind of Offer representing an aggregation of other offers. When marking up aggregate offers within a product, use the following properties of the schema.org AggregateOffer type:

Product---Rich-Snippet5

Examples

The examples below show the following:

  • Single product page, marked up with Product and Offer properties

  • Shopping aggregator page, marked up with Product and AggregateOffer properties

Single product page

Product---Rich-Snippet6

Shopping Aggregator page

Product---Rich-Snippet7

Additional Notes

  • Your product snippet may not display if the priceValidUntil property indicates a past date.

Related Documentation

Product-specific usage guidelines and policies

The goal of a product rich snippet is to provide users with information about a specific product, such as the product’s price, availability, and reviewer ratings and commentary. The following guidelines apply to product snippets:

  • Product markup should be used for a specific product, not a category of products or a list of products. For example, “shoes in our shop” is not a specific product. See also our structured data policies for multiple entities on the same page.

  • Adult-related products are not supported.

  • If the product has been reviewed by a single reviewer, the reviewer’s name needs to be a valid name for a Person (e.g. “James Smith”) or Team/Organization (e.g. “CNET Reviewers”). For example, “50% off on Black Friday” is not a valid name.