Search Engine Results test

What does it do?

Display how the website will typically appear in the results of a search engine like Google, and makes suggestions how this can be improved.

Example results

Example of search engine placement test results

Why is it important?

When a user is using a search engine, they typically consider the search results briefly before choosing one. Improving the quality of the result text which appears can improve the likelihood of being clicked upon for key phrases.

For example, consider a single result from a Google search result:

An example of search engine results from Google

It is possible to control – for the majority of cases – the blue Title text which appears here, as well as the black Description text which appears beneath it. Optimizing this text can noticeably improve clickthrough.

Many websites choose not to specify the descriptive text, leaving Google to invent an extract for the website. The result is usually less compelling to click upon:

An example of search engine results from Google

How is it measured?

This test inspects the Title for each webpage, and its Meta Description tag.

Google enforces specific maximum lengths for both Title and Description, which are replicated by Sitebeam. In the event a duplicate Description is used, it is ignored – again this is consistent with Google’s behavior, but is often overlooked by developers.

Additional commentary is added by Sitebeam for specific issues:

  • If the Title is a web address.
  • If the Title is redundant or useless, e.g. if it simply says “Homepage” or “Blog”.
  • If the Title is needlessly verbose, e.g. “News page” should be called “News”.
  • If the Description is extremely short (below 30 characters).

The final score is based on a weighted average of the scores for each page, proportional to their relative Importance.

Technical explanation

  • The maximum length for a Title before cropping is 55 characters (see this post by Moz for details)
  • The maximum length for a Description before cropping is 155 characters

Pages which appear to redirect are ignored, for example pages containing Javascript which immediately move the user to another page.

Potential problems

Google crops titles not by their number of characters, but by their display length. 55 characters is an approximate limit, which should account for 95% of titles.

Don’t assume that every page needs to have a flawless Title and Description. Most sites can be content with good Titles and Descriptions for their most Important pages. See Perfectionist fallacy.

How to improve this score

Ensure your most Important pages have clear, well written Titles and Descriptions within their maximum respective lengths.

Further reading

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