September 29, 2022

Did you know that 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 what you’re looking for. And on Thursday, Google announced what I think will be a nice improvement: the snippets below a search results link will now be generated based on where the mentioned term appears on the page.

of Google blog post about the change has a good image showing how this will work in practice, which I’ve included below. Google searched for “Google search” and the two snippets shown in the example both include the phrase “Google search” in bold.

Google search,results for “google search”.
Image: Google

In the past, Google would show you results that included the mentioned word or phrase, but the small snippet below a link might not show exactly where the phrase appeared on a page. In the blog post, Google’s Yonghao Jin explains why this happened and why he made the change:

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 making useful excerpts. For example, a word or phrase may appear in the menu item of a page, where you will navigate to different sections of the website. Creating a snippet around such sections may not produce a readable description.

We’ve heard feedback that people doing quote searches have value seeing where referenced material appears on a page and not in an overall page description. Our enhancement is designed to help address this issue.

As noted in the blog post, there are a few caveats about searches that are quoted. Some text may be hidden in a meta description tag or alt text and not easily visible on a page, for example, or Google may have crawled a page when it contained a term in quotes that has since been removed in an update. And Google “mostly” bolds snippets of web pages on desktop — bolding won’t work for mobile results.

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