Google’s Longer Snippets

It sure seems as if Google likes to keep us on our toes with changes. Most recently, Google increased the length of snippets and meta descriptions for desktop and mobile searches. A snippet is the teaser of information you see under a webpage title in a Google search result. You may be wondering what this means for your business. What does it mean for SEO? Should you change anything? Here’s a quick summary of the changes and some answers to those seemingly never ending questions.

How Has Google Changed Search Snippets?

Prior to December, Google’s snippets were limited to 165 characters. This typically gave us about 2 to 3 lines of text. Now Google snippets are about double that, between 4 and 6 lines. Because of this, we will be writing the meta a little differently. When writing, we have to find a balance. We want to entice people to click; however, we also want to answer as much as we can in the result. Having a more thorough answer will result in a higher ranking with Google. We may have to sacrifice some clicks by giving the answer – or possibly even risk our page being ruled out by searchers based on the information we give – but the idea is to have our page rank higher, giving us more clicks in the end, anyway. As a marketer, our end goal is to try to strategically answer the question while getting people so interested in the topic that they want to click through.

So, what should you do now? The first thing is to organize your landing pages. If you haven’t already, determine which ones are most important according to search traffic. Then you’ll need to optimize your meta descriptions of these for the longer limits. Although Google says there is no longer an official recommended length, it seems, based on data in multiple search results, the best range to stay in is between 230 and 320 characters. Most results stayed under 300 characters. It’s especially important to act now because you may be one of the first among your competitors to update. In fact, only 51% of searches displayed one single lengthened snippet. Being one of the first to update your meta descriptions could give you more real estate in search results.

Monitor Your Rank After Making Website Changes

The most important part now is to keep an eye on your click-through rate. Depending on how users respond, you could see both negative and positive impacts. Watching how users respond can help you determine what kind of material works best in your meta description so you can adjust as needed. Keep in mind when writing, Google doesn’t always display your meta description on the search results page as part of the snippet. It depends on the search that’s being performed and what Google thinks is most relevant to the intent of the searcher. Solid descriptions with a clear understanding of the page content will increase the likelihood of your description showing up on the search engine results page.

Jumping on this now and taking advantage of the new changes will likely give you a one-up on at least some of your competition. We live in a digital age where people quick-glance and skim for information, so making those snippets longer will decrease the chance of your site getting overlooked! Be strategic in your planning, and you’ll likely see results soon!

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