Why you shouldn’t waste your time – and speed – writing SEO *rich* snippets.

WordPress Mobile Speed

Updated


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We’re keeping this simple. Here are the real comparison of two Google listings of our blog post about PHP 7 and how it affects WordPress speed. Notice the difference in the snippet language.

First, we enter the posts exact title in the Google search field:

It’s the number one position naturally – because it’s an exact match. But notice the WordPress permalink underneath the link doesn’t match the post title. It gives more information scent for the user about the problem we’re addressing.

Your page tile and permalink don’t need to match. It’s better if they don’t. Publish more clues and cues for potential users and improve click-thru.

Information scent refers to the strength of relevant messaging throughout the customer journey as well as visual and textual cues that provide website visitors with hints on what information a site contains. – source

The snippet is selected by Google. It’s based on user search intent. Artificial intelligence drives the choice of snippet using an algorithm called RankBrain. It was introduced on OCTOBER 26TH, 2015. Long ago!

You should care about RankBrain because it’s an ever-increasing ranking factor.

RankBrain is part of Google’s core algorithm using unsupervised machine learning. Machines teach themselves from data inputs. RankBrain determines the most relevant results to your search engine queries. RankBrain’s used globally by Google. It sees relationships automatically. It makes educated guesses.

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The guessed answer to a query improves as the computer learns what people are really looking for in searches. It builds a relational database of intent.

Search intent, also known as keyword intent, is the ultimate goal of the person using a search engine. Since people look for, process, and use search results differently based on their ultimate goal, understanding and optimizing for search intent is important for Google.

By leveraging keyword intent, advertisers not only increase site traffic, but also attract more qualified prospects. This creates more sales and generates more leads. It helps Google sell more ads!

Google uses RankBrain to select and construct featured snippet results from your page content – not from your handwritten rich snippet database. That’s right. Shock! Your snippet efforts are a waste of time. Stop writing them. Uninstall your slow-loading SEO plugin.

MYTH: I’ve installed Yoast, so I’m all set

Sometimes, this statement makes me want to spit out my coffee and laugh; other times, it makes me sad that new bloggers can be so gullible and clueless.

Why?

Because this is an utterly ridiculous statement.

First, some newer bloggers mistakenly think that Yoast “gives them SEO.” And, of course, it doesn’t. In fact, there is no plugin that “gives you SEO.” There is no such thing. Rather the blog posts you write and the activities you do for a post will get you organic traffic. There is no silver bullet and no easy way around this.

Rather, Yoast attempts to measure your SEO. It uses some basic formulas that “check off” some of the boxes. Notice how I say “attempts.” This is because it’s very formulaic. And, also, it’s not very accurate nor predictive. In fact, often it gives you bad advice because it will direct you to do things that will lead to keyword stuffing (which is very bad for SEO) as well as poor writing, and that is bad for user experience. And, if it’s a bad user experience, it’s bad for SEO.

Many people mistakenly think that if they get a green light that their post is SEO optimized and will rank well. This simply isn’t true. Far from it. It’s all based on the keyword phrase that you enter. It does not tell you if that’s a highly searched term nor your chances of ranking for it. And, it’s simply garbage in/garbage out.

–Debbie Gartner

Snippets are history!

RankBrain does a better job of matching user queries with your web pages. This means you are no longer dependent on having all the keywords from the user query on your page content – or rich snippet.

So here’s the same page but with a new search phrase:

In this case, using the search phrase “PHP7 broken,” our same-post snippet is now pulled from a completely different part of our page. The results are better matched for keyword intent. Even if the keywords weren’t in the search phrase. Google guesses intent.

Notice the publication date is “7 days ago.” Fresh as a daisy! Read about how to keep content evergreen here.

Stop trying to defeat Google from doing a better job writing snippets. It’s their choice whether to use yours or not. Google has no obligation of compliance with your wishes or SEO manipulations. Google owns the web. They undo your wasteful snippet work in a blink.

Don’t try and save your snippets. They’re junk. Don’t install a different SEO plugin in some kind of salvage operation. They’re slow and obsolete.

Godspeed-

Steve Teare
performance engineer
April 2021

 

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