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Google SML

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Result details: SML Google changes algorithm with S M L

Monday, 6 October, 2008 at 12:17 AM Posted by Clinton Cimring

Result details: Google SML Hot off the press… Google has once again changed their search engine algorithm with S M L (SML). Simple Medium and Long snippets and/or descriptions of websites. Will Google SML change the entire SEO game?

Because search is such an integral part of its business, Google has to be careful whenever it thinks about implementing a new search-related feature like Google SML. The company regularly tests out unannounced new features across a small percentage of its users to see if they are worth implementing on a wider scale (this is called bucket testing). Earlier this summer we saw a preview of a Digg-like voting feature that has yet to reach the general public.

Traditionally, website sitemap summaries were not always helpful. Webmasters sometimes populate them with meaningless keywords intended solely to help them rank higher in search engines — not benefit users.

Only a limited number of people, randomly selected, are involved in Google's summary size-manipulation test.

When a person runs a query on Google, that person typically gets a long string of websites back. Ideally, the topmost results are most relevant to his or her search. To help that user pinpoint exactly what he or she was looking for, each site features a summary just below the title tag, which is supposed to describe what the user will find on that page.

Conversely, under Google's new SML results page the user has the ability to learn more about a website from data that Google has cached instantaneously without visiting the site. Google seems to be "bucket testing" a feature that allows users to specify how detailed the summary blurbs in their search results will be. The three available options are Small (which omits a summary entirely), Medium (the current default length), and Long (which is around four times longer than normal). The changes affect more than just aesthetics - the Long setting of Google SML apparently consists of both the standard meta summary as well as text pulled from the page itself, which could help users weed out sites with nice descriptions but little actual content. This really comes down to predicting searchers' behavior. Google SML gives the option of snippets under Google's Universal Search, which they came out with last year and/or a full description of a website from the site's meta description tag, which many SEO techs have speculated whether Google even uses. I guess now we know... The criteria for Google SML snippets are as follows:

S = No snippets
M = 161 character description in the snippet area
L = 638 character description in the snippet area

Below is an example of the S view under Google SML:

Google SML

This is the medium view under the Google SML Results:

Google S-M-L

Finally, we have the L view under SML search results:

Google Results SML

Keywords: Google SML

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