Dana Franks

Jun 4, 2014
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We have a client who is ranking very well in his market and in others. However, over time Google has started pulling snippets from content for his search results instead of using his meta description. His meta description has proven to convert well, while the snippets are very random. It started out with a few pages where this has happened, but over time now this is happening on most of his high volume pages.

We have tried manipulating the page text to get what we want in the description to be snippeted with the keywords, but that hasn't worked - it will skip right over it and snippet something else, even if the keyword is in it. We also have tried both things suggested on Customize search results snippet text - Google Search Appliance Help - on the first the code seems to add weird formatting on the front end, and on the second while it does help exclude some things we definitely don't want to include in snippets (like a list of ZIP codes on the page) it doesn't stop the snippets from happening or define what should be snippeted.

Does anyone else have similar experiences with this, and if so have you found a way to better control what is done here?

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Jul 26, 2012
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@Dana Franks, there's only so much you can do. Google creates descriptions (and titles) on the fly as it sees fit. It depends mostly on the specific query.

The only other thing you might try is to figure out which specific search terms (or families of search terms) prompt Google to grab excerpts from your page, rather than use the description you specified. Then add a section to the page on the topic / search term for which Google concocted a description, and consider adding that search term to the description.

Let's say your client is a roofer, and has a page that ranks for a bunch of roofing-related search terms. That page ranks for "roof repair" and "roof replacement" and "roof restoration," and Google shows your specified description tag for the first two, but not for the last one. In that case, add a section (or a more-detailed one) on "roof restoration," and consider adding it to your description tag. Even if the description tag goes a little long (over 155 characters). At the very least, the snippet Google grabs will be more relevant. More likely is Google will show your preferred description.

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