Annoyingly, Google is free to display anything it wants in the SERP description area. We are sure you have run into the situation where you’ve crafted an amazing meta description and Google decides to grab and display content from your page instead.
Recently Google released the “no snippet” tag, though there hasn’t been much from Google on practical applications. While browsing we found an article where the team from Propellernet used the no snippet tag to force Google to use the meta description that they had written rather than the description pulled from one of their web pages.
In our opinion, this is a clever use of the no snippet tag. But does it always work? We decided to try it out for ourselves and find out...
We set up the test like this..
The page in the screenshot below is ranking for the phrase in german. The page description in the SERPs is not our meta description.
The description in the SERPs is being pulled from the H1 and a little bit of the text below the H1 in the first paragraph.
Instead, we would prefer if the SERPs displayed the meta description that we have written.
Following what Propellernet did, we placed the span tag <span data-nosnippet>.....</span> around the text that Google was choosing for the description. We run this test three times using differing keywords each time.
The page was then submitted to Search Console for indexing.
Here is what we discovered
We stopped Google from showing that text, but Google is still pulling text from another place on the page and not displaying our meta description.
We then put the no snippet on that paragraph, and Google pulled from the top part of the site. It looks like Google is doing all it can to get the target keyword in the description one way or another.
Finally, we put the no snippet on the entire body. Google finally displayed our meta description.
We have learned that blocking the area that Google is pulling the description from is not enough to force Google to show our desired meta description. Also we can see that Google will skip to a different part of the page and pull text from there if we block the place where the current description is being pulled from. What surprised us was the fact that Google used the breadcrumbs at the top of the page for a description. It seems that Google is desperate to get the target keyword in the description area.
The end solution does work, you can no snippet the entire page and it will stop Google from ignoring your meta description.
One other note, the ranking of the page hasn't been affected at all.
If you’re interested in getting involved as a tester, we will show you exactly how to set up and run the tests using a scientific method. You will even get paid and get FULL credit amongst the group of over 1500 digital professionals to boost your reputation and authority. Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll support you in becoming the next SEO tester.
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