In December 2017, Google has confirmed that it will be making changes in rich snippets and allowing more characters for meta descriptions. With the new update, search snippets were doubled as compared to the previous character limit of 160. To date, you can now see between 230 to 320 characters in length for all website page meta descriptions.
The rich text snippet that Google shows in search engine results pages (SERPs) are usually the contents of the meta description which you incorporate to the HTML of your website pages. The SERPs snippets were much similar on mobile devices and same as on desktops.
It was observed that SERP ordering are now different, so there are also going to be ranking variations because of various factors such as your search history, query type, geo-location, and previous recorded interaction with search result pages.
Remember though that the overall scheme when it comes to SERP snippets is still constant – text will most likely be taken from either the first paragraph of your web page or part of the meta description. In some cases, the alt text attribute of images as well as text in the HTML code is captured for the snippet.
Dr. Pete Meyers Study
A study was conducted by Dr. Pete Meyers, who noted that in the 89,909 pages one organic results that he studied, the average SERP snippet was identified to be 315 characters with a notable median length of 186. He also pointed out that big numbers are usually distorting the average character length. On the one hand, there are pages with short snippets as their meta descriptions are also very short.
Dr. Meyers also noted an observation that there are no significant differences when it comes to mobile and desktop snippet lengths and sometimes mobile snippets tend to be longer as compared to desktop snippets. It was concluded that the actual SERP snippet that you will see on your searches will depend with every query type.
What is happening with the changes made?
Google is really trying to satisfy online users search requirements with their search results. The traditional idea fell short on the idea that Google will most likely just pull its SERP snippet from the meta descriptions you put on your pages. But throughout the years, Google has innovated its search results and is now using whatever text its algorithms identify that will usually make the most sense based on any search query you enter.
Google has evolved over time to use whatever it deems right to make the most sense to online users when it comes to performing a certain search query.
What is a meta description?
Meta descriptions can be defined as the HTML code that Google’s algorithm understands with a primary purpose of providing a synopsis of any given web page. Meta descriptions can usually be found between the <head></head> HTML tags and can only be found in the source code of the page which is not displayed on the front end of your website.
Do meta descriptions affect SEO?
Meta descriptions do not massively impact your rankings on search engines, but they have an impact on click through rates as it gives users a brief description of your website pages which plays a vital role in increasing organic traffic for your website. Users usually go for websites with a meta description that is relevant to the page and the query and is compelling enough for users to click on.
When you increase your organic traffic, in the long run, it can also impact your conversions. Poorly written meta descriptions can have an opposite effect on your website and will discourage users to click through to your page. As a long term damaging effect, your target audience will have the option to go to your competitor’s websites. For actionable SEO methods to implement on your website, read our guide.
So what is the best strategy for boosting my SERP’s?
To improve your chances of a higher click through rate, you can do the following:
- Rewrite all the meta descriptions of your website’s pages and make them longer.
- Rewrite selected meta descriptions of pages you have identified to have low click-through rates.
- Make a thorough audit of your website’s content to ensure that the first paragraph of each page is compelling enough to attract readers to your website. Also, ensure that the first paragraph of each page contains at least 300 – 350 characters including spaces. Don’t forget to front-load the first 150 characters in case Google decides to switch back to the shorter snippets.
Looking to increase your organic traffic? Read our guide here.
What does the updated snippet mean to marketers?
While most marketers are still in the process of figuring out what the update on featured snippet means for B2B and B2C, it is almost certain that Google is on the track of keeping more content within its search engine results pages.
With this opportunity, online marketers can take advantage of the organic results page to drive traffic. With this, you can have the avenue for understanding your target audience, their behaviors and what motivates them to click on certain content. Google is simply finding ways to provide users with a more defined search result relevant to user queries.
SEO Brisbane is not a “set it and forget it” when it comes to the content of your website and your meta descriptions. Most businesses usually just put a fair amount of work on their website then just let it be. To rank higher on search engines, you have to be dedicated when it comes to optimising your website. Remember that you are optimising for your target audience and not just for Google.
The update on snippets is just the beginning and Google will probably make more changes in the future to improve search results in favor of users.