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4.5 Lesser-Known Ways You Didn’t Know You Could Customize Site Appearance in Search Engine Results

Articles in Search Engine Optimization | By August R. Garcia

Published 1 month agoFri, 19 Apr 2019 17:24:12 -0700 | Last update 1 month agoFri, 19 Apr 2019 17:25:52 -0700

There are a number of obscure tricks that can be used to easily modify search result appearance. Here are some you probably didn't know about.

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When creating content for a website, there are three main ways that webmasters can indicate how their sites’ pages appear in search results:

  • The <title> tag;
  • The <meta type=”description” content=”...”> tag; and
  • The URL.

On top of these three, webmasters can also use structured data to refine appearances further, configuring results to show star ratings and product information, to replace the URL with breadcrumbs, and so on. 

However, there are a number of obscure tricks that can be used to easily modify search result appearance further, five of which are discussed in this article.  

Mathematical Bold

When setting the <title> tag and meta description for webpages, only plain characters can be used. You cannot, for example, include <strong> tags within a meta description. I mean, you can, but it doesn’t actually render as HTML.

However, conveniently, there is a magic font called mathematical bold, which is inherently bold without the need to use any hypertext markup language. There’s even a generator that can be used to create this text, as well as other similar inherently styled fonts, which do show correctly in search results.

This text generally also works fine with social media sites. For example, searching for “watch crumb movie online free” will, as of the time of this post, include a result for this video.

Mathematical Bold Font in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo Search Results

Based on the fact that that page ranks for the term in question with no issue in searches through Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo, it’s clear that search engines are able to process this text as if it were regular font.

Strikethrough and Semantic HTML

As of the time of this post, searching for “Error 503: maximum threads for service reached” through Google will return this thread in on the first page. As shown in the image below, the strikethrough text (created with the <s> tag) is omitted in the description shown in search results.

Google Search Results; Strikethrough Text Not Shown in the Search Result

More broadly, this is a classic example of how HTML provides both presentational and semantic data, which--among other benefits--allows search engines and other robots to parse and understand webpages more effectively.

Bonus Test Post and Notes

There are two HTML tags used for indicating strikethrough markup:

  • <s> - “Use the <s> element to represent things that are no longer relevant or no longer accurate. However, <s> is not appropriate when indicating document edits; for that, use the <del> and <ins> elements, as appropriate.”
  • <del> - “The HTML <del> element represents a range of text that has been deleted from a document. This can be used when rendering "track changes" or source code diff information, for example.”

For the lulz, a test post has been created with unique, randomly generated test alphabetical strings. As of the time of this post, that test post hasn’t been indexed yet. Come back later and find out to what extent the <del> and <s> strikethrough impacts indexing for that post.

Emojis

Searching for “site:emojipedia.org” on any of the major search engines renders emojis fine both in title tags and meta descriptions. However, there are occasional issues with cross-browser and OS compatibility, where emojis can in some cases show as the undefined rectangle or otherwise incorrectly.

As discussed in more depth previously, it is possible to enable links to allow users to “jump to” particular sections of your webpages by:

  • Adding id=”some-section-heading” anchors to your headings; and

  • Adding a table of contents with links to those anchors.

An example of a page with this type of “jump to” link is shown in the image below.

Google Search Result - 'Jump To' Anchor Example

This is particularly relevant for sites that use the fairly common set up of including partial, exact, or phrase match keywords for some or all of their site headings. Assuming that your site ranks for the targeted terms, this can improve click-through rate by including an anchor in search results directly to the section of the page that the user is looking for, effectively allowing individual pages to more effectively target broader sets of keywords.

Google Chrome’s URL bar also acts as a search bar. By default, searches will go to your specified default search engine. However, you can jump to a number of sites’ own custom search pages by typing the domain into the Chrome URL bar and pressing space. This works for a number of sites, such as YouTube, Bing, Quora, Reddit, and various other sites. 

While you might think that this is set up with structured data, such as what is done with the sitelinks searchbox, the Chromium tab-to-search feature is separate. As discussed in this Google Chrome help thread, there are two ways to set this up:

  • Adding an OpenSearch description document; or
  • Including a [search] forum on your site that:
    • Generates a GET request;
    • Results in an HTTP url; and
    • Does not have an OnSubmit script.

The second option sounds more complicated than it actually is. The 256 Kilobytes search bar meets all three of those requirements, as does basically any generic site search. 

How does the Chrome search bar have anything to do with SEO?

- Probably Someone

It doesn’t, but this section is already written and it’s tangential to your interests.

In Conclusion

Minor onpage SEO adjustments changes can have significant impacts on click-through rate, which is useful for obvious reasons.

While you’re experimenting with your site, you might also put together more content by following this onpage SEO guide, improve your site’s internal link structure, find and fix broken links, or aimlessly browse SEO content on 256 Kilobytes. 

You can also become a 256 Kilobytes subscriber and check out Huevos Rancheros’ six-hour video guide to keyword research [subscriber only link] as well as some of the other finest eBooks. Or blow your SEO budget like you’re at a roulette table.

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by August R. Garcia 1 month ago

Edit History

• [2019-04-19 17:24 PDT] August R. Garcia (1 month ago)
🕓 Posted at 19 April, 2019 17:24 PM PDT

Profile Photo - August R. Garcia August R. Garcia LARPing as a Sysadmi... Portland, OR
🗎 136 🗨 711 🐏 166
Site Owner

Grahew Mattham

August Garcia is some guy who used to sell Viagra on the Internet. He made this website to LARP as a sysadmin while posting about garbage like user-agent spoofing, spintax, the only good keyboard, virtual assitants from Pakistan, links with the rel="nofollow" attributeproxies, regular expressions, HTML and CSSsin, the developer console, and probably some other trash.


Account created 5 months ago.
136 posts, 711 comments, and 166 RAMs.

Last active 1 day ago:
Commented in thread Biography of Terry A. Davis: The Greatest Programmer to Ever Live

Profile Photo - August R. Garcia August R. Garcia LARPing as a Sysadmi... Portland, OR
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Site Owner

One bonus note on that point about "jump to" links. Apparently (discovered this like an hour ago) for more general queries those links are also shown under posts (see image below).

Search Result - Hiroyuki Nishimura

Query on that was "Hiroyuki Nishimura" and the post shown is at this URL:

Download more RAM. 🐏 ⨉ 0 Posted by August R. Garcia 4 weeks ago 🕓 Posted at 22 April, 2019 22:33 PM PDT

The CIA wants all code in the cloud under their lock and key. They want to ban compilers and make people think HTML is computer programming. - Terry A. Davis

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