European press publisher FAQ

Google helps people find relevant and diverse content, and helps publishers reach readers. Google analyzes hundreds of billions of web pages and presents relevant search results to our users, who are then able to access the information they seek on sites like yours.

In order to help people understand why Google has selected the search results it displays, Google presents short previews of the content from the linked web pages -- most commonly, short text extracts, or snippets, and thumbnail images. Experiments have shown that these previews help people quickly find the site that has the content they are looking for. However, in the wake of new copyright law in France, Google will change the way it presents search results for European press publications to people in that country. Specifically, Google will no longer present snippets and thumbnail images in France for these publications unless publishers displaying content in France have specified how much of this content they want to show  in search results.

This article brings together questions about these new limitations, specifically for publishers of these websites.

Q: Which publishers are affected by the new copyright law?

A: We had to make an initial assessment without any specific guidelines to follow as the law does not list which publications are affected. So, we have included any European journalistic operation that's currently part of Google News. We didn't include sites that are not primarily journalistic operations, such as but not limited to academic journals, personal blogs or content from sports teams. Any publication that wasn't initially included can easily self-include themselves; any publication that wishes to opt-out can also use self-serve tools to do that using Google Search Console. Similarly, a publisher can remove its property from the list if it feels that the publication has been included in error.

Q: Is my website affected?

A: Google provides information about the status of your website as an affected European press publication in Google Search Console, with a special setting that shows the current status.

Q: My website is incorrectly designated. How can I let you know?

A: Google provides information about the status of your website as an affected European press publication in Google Search Console, with a special setting that shows the current status. Verified owners in Search Console are able to change the site's status. Find out more about verifying ownership. If you are unsure who has verified ownership of your website, you must verify the website first (there can be multiple owners), and then review the list of verified owners in Search Console. Other verified owners will be notified of changes in this setting.

Q: My site was incorrectly set, I changed it. How long until this is reflected in Search?

A: The status for an affected European press publication is reprocessed within a few days. These changes are effective across the whole website and do not require recrawling or reprocessing of individual URLs. 

Q: What is the effect of this designation?

A: Because of changes in copyright law in France, Google Search will not display text snippets or image thumbnails for affected European press publications in France, unless the website has implemented meta tags to permit search previews.

Q: How can I show a longer or shorter snippet for my pages?

A: Any publisher or website in the world, regardless of the designation as an affected European press publication, is able to control snippets for their websites using multiple methods. Publishers can remove snippets altogether, set the maximum length of snippets for their pages or the maximum size of thumbnails for their images, or to hide parts of a page from snippets. You can find out more in our developer documentation for robots meta tags. These require recrawling and reprocessing of your site's pages in order to be effective.

Q: How do I optimize the length of my preview?

A: Google tries to select previews that are long enough to help users identify the page they’re looking for while preserving the user’s desire to visit that page. However, publishers can set their own limits on the amount of preview content that Google displays by implementing robots meta tags. Individual sites and different business verticals may discover that more or less preview content is optimal for attracting users to their sites. Additionally, in France, European press publishers must set a maximum snippet length in meta robots tags before their previews can include any snippet at all.

Q: How can I prevent certain parts of my content from being included in snippets?

A: Any publisher or website in the world, regardless of the designation as an affected European press publication, is able to set snippet thresholds their websites using an HTML attribute on their pages. This allows publishers to disallow snippet selection from parts of a page. You can find out more in our developer documentation for robots meta tags. These changes require recrawling and reprocessing of a site's pages in order to be effective.

Q: How can I have my pages reprocessed & updated quickly?

A: Changing meta tags or HTML attributes to set snippet limits is a significant change in how a page can be presented by search engines. The best way to notify us of such a change is to use XML sitemap files. Specify the date of the last significant change of each URL as the last modification date (lastmod) in the XML file. You can use "HTTP ping" method to signal that the sitemap file has been updated and is ready for processing. Note that the speed of reprocessing depends on many factors, including the crawl budget for the website

Q: Are there ways to provide the meta tag without per-page reprocessing?

A: No. Pages must be reprocessed individually in order to be updated in our search results.

Q: Can I use different snippet settings across my site's pages?

A: Yes. These settings are made on a per-page basis and do not need to be the same across the whole website.

Q: Will these snippet changes affect my site's position / ranking in search?

A: No change to how we evaluate page relevance is being made alongside the new markup, but some Search features, such as Featured Snippets, depend on the availability of preview content. (It would be very hard to feature a snippet if the snippet itself is not provided!) Other Search features may try to group together search results with limited previews in order to optimize the space on the search results page. Outside of those user interface limitations, our search ranking algorithms will not take into account how much of your content is available for previewing. But users might; bear in mind that different amounts of preview content may make your pages more or less understandable and noticeable to search users. Consequently, those settings may affect your search referral traffic. Find out more about how Search Console reports on your site's performance using position, clicks, and impressions

Q: If I implement markup to permit search previews, will Google pay me?

A: We believe that Search should operate on the basis of relevance and quality, not commercial relationships. To operate in any other way would reduce the choice and relevance to our users—and would ultimately result in the loss of trust in our services. That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in organic search results and we don’t pay for the links or preview content included in search results. When you use the new markup tools, you consent to the use of that preview content without payment, either to or from Google.

That’s not to say you don’t benefit. Preview content helps users understand what makes your page relevant to their search, which experiments show makes them more likely to click through. Google Search sends 8 billion clicks to European publishers every month, each of which represents a real economic opportunity for publishers through advertising or subscriptions.

Q: Does content in "data-nosnippet" blocks still get indexed?

A: Yes. Using any of the methods to prevent text from being shown in a snippet won't prevent that content from being indexed. These methods only limit what's being shown in the search results snippet.

Q: I prefer you not show my pages at all, how can I do that?

A: You can block individual pages from being shown in search by using the "noindex" robots meta tag. This meta tag would prevent the whole page from being shown in search, once it has been processed. Please note that in order for this meta tag to be seen, the page must not be disallowed from crawling through the robots.txt file.

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