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I have a problem here where Google shows my <nav> instead of my main section in the SERPs. On top of that, because my nav is made up of inline elements, the result gets really messy:

example.com - My page title
www.example.com/url/to/page - Translate this page
LoremIpsumDolorSitAmetConsecteturAdipiscingElitSedDoEiusmod...

Instead, how do I get Google to show my main section? Is it as simple as wrapping my content in <main>?

Most sites I've seen don't have their navs showing in their SERPs anyway:

https://google.com/search?q=site:stackoverflow.com

My markup is basically this:

<html>
  <head>...</head>
  <body>
    <!-- jQuery Mobile `page`: https://api.jquerymobile.com/page/ -->
    <div data-role="page">
      <div data-role="header">...</div>
      <div data-role="content">
        <div class="top">
          <nav>
            <a>Lorem</a>
            <a>Ipsum</a>
            <a>Dolor</a>
            <a>Sit</a>
            <a>Amet</a>
            <a>...</a>
          </nav>
        </div>
        <div class="main">
          <div class="articles_wrapper">
            <div class="article" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/ScholarlyArticle">
              <h1 itemprop="name">Main content goes here</h1>
              <p itemprop="description">...</p>
            </div>
            <div class="article" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/ScholarlyArticle">
              <h1 itemprop="name">...</h1>
              <p itemprop="description">...</p>
            </div>
            <div class="article" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/ScholarlyArticle">
              <h1 itemprop="name">...</h1>
              <p itemprop="description">...</p>
            </div>
          </div>
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </body>
</html>
  • Many sites operate without <main> just fine, Google can also determine a navigation menu without using <nav> and <ul>. Linking the site in question and what search phrase will promote better answers. Typical problems such as this could be a number of things, without details its hard to say. – Simon Hayter Oct 12 '15 at 20:11
  • Also not using any special search phrases, just site:example.com. – Mark Boulder Oct 12 '15 at 20:32
  • I could be wrong, but I think Simon was asking for the domain name. If he was not, then I am. ;-) – closetnoc Oct 12 '15 at 21:17
  • 1
    Change the h1's to h2, then add a h1 to the page that is relevant to the category, you could also use a intro text for that category. This makes the page more identifiable to Google, look how webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/seo is structured as a good example. Also, ensure you have page title and meta description since your code doesn't include that, you may have that done already through, ... – Simon Hayter Oct 13 '15 at 9:29
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I have a problem here where Google shows my <nav> instead of my main section in the SERPs.

Do you have an unique meta description defined for each of your pages? If so, Google will use that in the SERPS instead of whatever it can find. As Simon says (heh...Simon Says) Google usually does a good job of figuring out your nav vs. content but it doesn't always figure it out and you shouldn't leave it to chance anyway.

| improve this answer | |
  • Actually no - turns out the meta descriptions of the pages in question were not unique. Cheers! – Mark Boulder Oct 15 '15 at 8:46
1

Google is fairly predictable in how it creates it's SERP links and snippet. Google rarely goes off the reservation unless there is something very wrong with the site.

What is important is to baseline how you are looking at your SERP links and snippets. It is always best to begin with a site:example.com search to see how Google will display the SERP link and snippet without influence.

Google will chose to use other HTML elements or data from another site to use for your SERP link and snippet. You generally want to avoid this as well as give good alternate options for Google to chose from. It is a 1, 2 punch.

It seems like we go over title tags over and over again. I will not repeat myself. Here are some answers I have given on the topic that will help.

Title Tag too long:

Title in Google does not match <title> of document

Title tag different from title appearing in Google?

Title Tag too short:

Why is the string "- Ruby Shoo" appearing in the page title of a lot of our google search results?

The up-shot is that you have to manage your title tag length so that they are effective. Make them conversational (sentence).

The same effect applies to the description meta-tag. You must manage it. It should not be too short or greater than 170 characters. Shoot for two lines in your SERP snippet, certainly not 1 or generally 3. The key for an effective description meta-tag is that you use the most common search terms used to find your site in a conversational way.

In the case of using pipes in your title.

Pipes are a special case where you are telling Google to take terms in a group. Never use pipes to isolate single keywords. Do not use more than two pipe characters. Only when branding can you break the rules. The brand is always last and should match your domain name or a brand name used in mark-up as part of your NAP (name, address, phone) found on an About page, Contact page, or within the header or better yet the footer. If you use a brand in a title tag with a pipe character, Google will move the brand to the beginning of the SERP link with a colon followed by the rest of your title tag.

Google will sometime brand your SERP link when it is short or short enough by appending a dash (-) with the brand. If you are not managing your brand, here is what you do:

Why is the string "- Ruby Shoo" appearing in the page title of a lot of our google search results?

Just in case, you want a back-up.

You should use only one h1 tag. It should be only slightly longer than the title tag and not an exact or a close copy or it will be ignored.

Your first paragraph should sum up your entire article and contain many of the search terms used to find your site. It should not be an exact copy of your description meta-tag or a close copy.

You are in effect giving Google a reason to chose an alternate that you control.

Lastly, know that with term searches, Google will try and match the SERP link and/or snippet with the terms in the search query. You cannot control all cases, however, you can control much of it. The single most important element is the description meta-tag. If Google can match the search term with the description meta-tag, it is far less likely that Google will change the SERP link and snippet. It is not necessary that the title tag have the search terms. Otherwise, Google will match against content. You can manage how Google displays your SERP link and snippet for most all cases fairly easily.

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