The New Cut-Down In Google Search Results Snippets
It’s only been around 5 months since Google announced an increase the character limit for search engine result snippets, also referred to as META descriptions.
Since the announcement, websites had been taking advantage of the change to provide as much information to the searcher as possible with longer META descriptions. See example below.
All that changed just recently.
Now Google is scaling back the length of these snippets adding that they are now “slightly longer than they were originally back in December of 2017”.
This cut-down has been confirmed by Google’s public search liaison Danny Sullivan on Twitter. According to his tweet, though there is no fixed length, and that the length of snippet displayed depends on its relevance, the “search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks”.
We at Search Berg Labs saw it coming way back when the new changes were first implemented late last year. While an argument can be made that providing more data in the snippets means, users can view more information in the SERP results and make a better decision on which result to click; Our analysis concluded that such an impact was extremely minimal and in some scenarios, negligible. In fact, in some cases, users were turn off by seeing “too much content” on the results page. There is a fine line between displaying too little and too much and Google realized that this line was crossed with the lengthy snippets hence the correction.
There is another side to it as well. The time and effort website developers and designers had to put in in order to add these lengthy snippets was unnecessary. This was extremely tedious and cumbersome for larger sites 100+ pages or more.
It should be noted that when increasing the length of snippets shown at the end of last year, Google specified that changing meta description tags was not necessary if a developer felt that their shorter snippet was sufficient for information.
However, SEO’s, being the perfectionists that we are, naturally stressed on conforming to the new guidelines. Needless to say, there may have been a few heated developer-SEO meetings. At Search Labs though, things went much smoothly as our DEV team is SEO-driven and has a fascination with SEO.
So how long is the length of META tags now?
In a follow-up comment to his Twitter post, Sullivan once more specified that the length of snippet is going to be generated dynamically, based on how much text the search engine’s system (algorithms) deem worthy of searcher’s notice.
The new average length for desktop-based snippets comes around 160 characters, while mobile search pages will display an average of 130 characters in a snippet.
If you are one of the many website owners/developers who increased the length of meta descriptions these past few months, revisiting these may be important. However, we should specify that Google has advised the public not to put too much emphasis on shortening snippets’ lengths, since these are chosen dynamically.
For our clients, customers and followers concerned about changes such as these, Search Berg stays on top of things. Our SEO technicians are dedicated to consistent research to provide you with updates on all the latest news in Search.