Did you know you can search for an exact word or phrase on Google by putting quotation marks around it? It’s a great way to get specific about something you’re looking for. And on Thursday, Google announced what I think will be a nice improvement: the small snippets underneath a search result link will now be created based on where the quoted term appears on the page.
Google’s blog post about the change has a good image that illustrates how this will work in practice, which I’ve included below. Google googled “google search,” and the two snippets shown in the example both include the bolded phrase “Google Search.”
Previously, Google would show you results that included the quoted word or phrase, but the small snippet under a link may not have shown exactly where the phrase appeared on a page. In the blog post, Google’s Yonghao Jin explains why that was and why it made the change:
In the past, we didn’t always do this because sometimes the quoted material appears in areas of a document that don’t lend themselves to creating helpful snippets. For example, a word or phrase might appear in the menu item of a page, where you’d navigate to different sections of the site. Creating a snippet around sections like that might not produce an easily readable description.
We’ve heard feedback that people doing quoted searches value seeing where the quoted material occurs on a page, rather than an overall description of the page. Our improvement is designed to help address this.
As noted in the blog post, there are a few caveats about quoted searches. Some text may be hidden in a meta description tag or alt text and not be easily visible on a page, for example, or Google may have crawled a page when it contained a quoted term that has since been removed in an update. And Google “mainly” bolds quoted content in webpage snippets on desktop — bolding won’t work for mobile results.