Near the end of last quarter, Google announced its changes to provide longer snippets in the SERPs. It changed the snippet display length and meta descriptions for both mobile and desktop. The below search result examples show where the original 165 character limit would cut off, which is what most searchers would have seen prior to the middle of December.
Over 90% of search snippets were 165 characters or less prior to the middle of November 2017. Now, Google has added a few more lines from 165 characters to 275 characters. This gives searchers a better, general response to their query without having to click through to the site. While there’s been no official length indicated, data providers collecting search results didn’t find many that extend beyond 300 characters.
How Marketers Can Address These Changes
The focus should be on providing a longer answer within the snippet to answer the searcher query. Although it may affect click-through rate, it may provide a better user experience overall.
It may negatively produce fewer clicks on less complex queries. However, there’s a good chance it may positively produce more clicks on more complex queries because people are more enticed by the longer descriptions.
Also, keep in mind that longer snippets are taking up more real estate in search, possibly causing searchers to not scroll as far. The results that are further up will draw more clicks. In short, if the searcher is finding their answer in the first few queries, there’s no need for them to keep looking.
Next Steps for SEO
First, make a priority list of your most important landing pages by search traffic. Re-optimize these meta descriptions to meet the longer limits.
Second, check the limits for the SERPs that are sending you the most traffic or that you are ranking for the most.
Third, go into your internal processes or CMS and update the rules around the length of your meta description tags from the 160-180 range to the new 230-320 range.
The goal, of course, remains the same: provide users the most quality information for their query.
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