Did you know that you can search for an exact word or phrase on Google by putting quotes around it? It’s a great way to be specific about something you’re looking for. And on Thursday, Google announced what I think is a nice improvement: small snippets under a search result link will now be created based on where the quoted term appears on the page.
Google blog post on the switch has a good image that illustrates how it will work in practice, which I’ve included below. Google googled “Google search”, and the two snippets shown in the example both include the bold phrase “Google search”.
Previously, Google would show you results that included the quoted word or phrase, but the little snippet under a link might not indicate exactly where. the sentence appeared on one page. In the blog post, Google’s Yonghao Jin explains why that was and why he made the switch:
In the past, we didn’t always do this because sometimes cited material appears in areas of a document that don’t lend themselves to creating useful excerpts. For example, a word or phrase may appear in the menu item of a page, where you access different sections of the site. Creating a code snippet around sections like this might not produce an easily readable description.
We heard comments that people doing cited research appreciate seeing where the cited material is on a page, rather than an overall description of the page. Our improvement is designed to help fix this issue.
As noted in the blog post, there are some caveats regarding the cited research. Some text might be hidden in a meta description tag or alt text and not easily visible on a page, for example, or Google might have crawled a page when it contained a quoted term that has since been removed in a update. And Google “primarily” bolds quoted content in web page snippets on desktop – bold won’t work for mobile results.