In December, it was announced by Google that the length of a snippet had increased, to allow for more descriptive and informative snippet text.
For those who are wondering, a snippet is the short description that appears below a URL in an organic search result. The purpose of a snippet is to provide the user with a brief description of the contents of the page, allowing the user to select the most relevant page to their query.
Snippets are deemed important as they play a big part in the click-through rate for a specific page, as users will read the text and use it as a deciding factor of whether they want to view your page or not, and now, Google have increased the allowed character count.
Google have been phasing out the update sporadically, but now it is becoming increasingly apparent to users that snippets have become significantly lengthier. In fact, the character count has grown to 160 to 230 characters on average, based on findings from Rank Ranger, but Google pronounced that snippets can reach 320, should the users query necessitate that.
Don’t drop everything and run to optimise all of your meta descriptions just yet! The process takes a far more dynamic approach than that and it is not guaranteed that you will be granted all 320 characters worth of precious SERP’s space!
As we all know, Google doesn’t necessarily display the meta description that you have manually entered on all of your web pages; they might not show your description at all. Therefore, going away and lengthening all your meta’s to 320 characters is time wasted that could be better spent focusing on your greater SEO campaign.
Only when Google deems it absolutely necessary to a user’s query, will it dynamically generate a longer snippet using the existing content on your website.
A Google representative told Search Engine Land, “We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches.
“This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.”
So should extended snippets change the way you write future meta descriptions?
Again, the answer is no. The fundamentals of writing a description tag should remain as they are.
A description won’t necessarily hinder you rankings, but used as encouragement for users to click on your website. This means descriptions and their content should be informative, concise and highly relevant to the contents of a specific page.
If your page unreservedly necessitates a longer description then use the extra characters, otherwise if it’s possible to fit all of the essentials into 160 characters, keep it like that, descriptions don’t need to be increased for the sake of it.
SEM Consultant’s have a team of Organic Search specialists on hand to assist with any SEO queries and services you may need, this includes the writing and editing of meta descriptions, titles and tags. If you require any of our SEO, PPC or Web Design services, please call us today on 0121 552 6500, or complete the contact form below and we will be in touch!