Nosnippet – not just what I said to my wife’s request for a vasectomy.

When your webpage is listed in a search results page, traditionally Google would display the contents of the title tag and the description tag next to your site’s listing. In creating your page, you can nominate a description and title tag of your design.

Over time, Google has adjusted what displays in the description tag. If Google considers that there’s a section of copy of the webpage (a snippet) that’s more suitable for the specific search a user has entered, Google will choose to display this to them instead or your nominated description.

Google’s exact statement on this is as follows;

“Google uses content previews, including text snippets and other media, to help people decide whether a result is relevant to their query. The type of preview shown depends on many factors, including the type of content a person is looking for and the kind of device they’re viewing it on.”

As search engine optimisers, we’ve long been able to offer Google users a richer experience for some specific types of search, for example;  recipes, events and job opportunities have been able to use Google’s structured data tool to mark-up webpages to offer a richer search experience, such as cooking times, star ratings, or even to ensure that a page is listed in a national job search directory.

What’s new in Google snippets?

With the launch of the new snippet mark-up options, we should be able to more finely tune how our site appears in the search results.

The precise mark-up is as follows and should be included in the robots tag in the section <head> of your HTML;


This specifies that we don’t want any textual snippet for this page.


Displays the maximum length of the snippet where XX represents the number of characters.


Displays the maximum duration of an animated video where XX represents seconds.


Specify a maximum image preview size for images on the page – the Setting options include; none, standard, or large.

We can, of course, combine these options;

<meta name="robots" content="max-snippet:60, max-image-preview:large">

This would mean if Google were to show our snippet it would cap the description at 60 characters and provide a large image preview.


Where this becomes really interesting is that we can use the new


element within the HTML itself.

This allows us to restrict specific parts of our content from being listed within the search results, allowing us to really finely tune what’s being displayed in the Google search results.

For instance, one could list something along the following lines;

<p>Then my husband spoke to me and said that he’s <span data-nosnippet>simply not</span> considering that vasectomy.</p>

Allowing us to manipulate both the content and, in this case, the meaning available to Google to display in its results page.