Category Archives: SEO

Google launches Rich Snippet Testing Tool

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Now this is one feature (tool) that I’m really really excited about! Why? Because I suggested it this summer! And I have proof ;)

Posted on YouTube on 19 August 2009

Adeel from Manchester, UK asks:
“When do you recon Rich Snippets will be made widely available? Can I suggest a tool in Google Webmaster Tools that lets you view (or preview) Rich Snippets from your site?”

This video is part of a “Grab Bag” series in which Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, answers questions from users.

At the time Matt Cutts played down saying: “[...] its a good suggestion [...]” and recommend that we look at the current website using Rich Snippets and try to understand how they have implemented them.

And, to be honest, I was happy with the answer. But I was thrilled to see the notification in my Google Reader saying there is an update about Rich Snippets.

Rich Snippet Tool

Rich Snippet Tool

The tool is pretty good, all you have to do is enter a URL of a page that has microformats or RDFa format embedded in the HTML. When you hit the magic button, the tool displays an example of the Rich Snippet which includes the star rating and the extra information (in this case the price info).

What I really like about the tool is that it goes a step further and shows the extracted information. This is really helpful when debugging the formats. One other hidden gem is the rating calculation which clearly specified how the rating that is shown in the format of stars was achieved.

Finally, I want to tip my hat in thanks and recognition to the Google Webmaster Team and anyone involved in making this tool!

Google does not use the description meta tag in web ranking

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Yesterday Google confirmed that they do not use keyword meta tag in web ranking. To be fair, “most” of the SEO experts had worked that out (for years?). I believe Google did this because of a recent legal battle regarding “copying” of keywords.

But the most interesting part of the post, for me at least, was:

Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

I always thought that way too. Description meta tag is a ‘description’ of a page and although Google does highlight certain words, it doesn’t really rank results on the basis of it.

And the big question, is it a good thing? Hell yes! You don’t want people to ‘spam’ description meta tags with:

keyword1, keyword2. Looking for keyword1, keyword2. Then you can find keyword1, keyword2 here where we offer keyword1, keyword2 at amazing cheap keyword1, keyword2 prices. [...]more jibbrish[...]

I just hope people pick this up and start writing good user-friendly (or at the very least grammatically correct) descriptions.

UPDATE:
Matt Cutts has explained it more clearly in a comment on his blog:

[...] meta descriptions don’t count in scoring (that is, determining the scores which are then used to determine what order to show the results in). So changing your meta description tag won’t make your website rank higher. When we show snippets, we can sometimes use the meta description as the snippet that we show. [...]