Have you noticed that Google subtly made changes to its character limitations? This includes changes to the length of snippets and meta descriptions, and this can mean a huge thing for SEO. Google’s new character limits basically impacts the meta description, which is why the snippets are now noticeably longer. As you know, snippets are usually taken from the meta description part of each webpage. What does this mean exactly for SEO?
Previously, we had the standard 165-character limit on the snippets that we see on our search results whenever we make any type of search on Google. Since Google decided to add some lines to the snippets we see on the Google search results, we can now see even up to six lines of text whether we view it on mobile or desktop.
How It Used To Be
Back in November, when someone searches for something they don’t really know anything about, and they’re not really looking for anything specific, they can read the definition on the snippet but it would get cut off right in the middle. They won’t know what it is exactly until they click on the link on the link to the site. Most people would totally visit the site to get the full information. Now, because Google has expanded the snippets by a couple of lines, anybody who makes a search would be able to see the information they want to find at a glance. In the past, Google also did something like this, those featured snippets that usually appear on top of the search results.
Still, a lot of people would argue that the snippet we can see in the expanded version of the search results is not exactly all of the information that we need. Many would agree to that. However for most people who makes random searches, these snippets already give them enough of the information they’re looking for. Chances are, they would no longer take time to click on the links to visit the individual sites. The extra one or two lines in the snippet has already solved everything for the searchers.
How Will This Change the SEO Game?
This may seem like a trivial change to the searchers – it just made things a bit more convenient for them, but this can have a big impact on SEO. Basically, we can deduct that Google made at least two changes. First, the length of the snippet changed and of course, their guidelines regarding the snippets and meta descriptions also changed.
Until November, Google’s guidelines meant that you had to keep your meta description within 160 to 180 characters if you want your snippet to look trustworthy and reliable. Now they’re saying that there’s no exact recommended length anymore, as long as you don’t go beyond 320 characters. Many SEO data providers would also tell you that so far, there are no snippets that go beyond this number.
When Did This Change Begin?
Perhaps not that many people noticed, even including those who make Google searches several times in a day. However, many data collection service providers started noticing the changes on Google around the end of November. Now, more than 50% of the search results show listings that have longer snippets and you can easily see this when you check out the top ten results. The thing is, not all of the search results have longer snippets. But you can find at least one in the top ten results. This is because Google is still using old meta descriptions for those websites that have not updated their meta description yet.
Hence, a lot of the results are still using the 165-character snippets that are SEO-optimized. This could be a game changer during this holiday season for your business since it is highly likely that your competitors are not even aware of this change yet. If you are one of the first person to update your pages, your important pages is likely to perform better than others because of this update. During the holiday season, customers would flock to your site to avail of your product and services if you have made the updates on time.
Where is SEO in all of these?
Of course, as Google makes changes, no matter how small, you can expect that it will have a resonating effect on SEO, effects that might be greater than you can anticipate. With Google’s longer snippets, how will things change where SEO strategies are concerned? Here’s how:
- It changes the way the meta description should be written.
Now that the meta description limitation ahs somewhat been ‘lifted’, we can now take a different approach for your business. We still need people to click on our links and access our website so we would be trying our best to entice them. However, at the same time, we want to provide as much useful information as possible in the meta description with the hopes that Google will promote us to a higher rank, albeit sacrificing clicks and site visits.
- It could change things where click-through rate is concerned.
Since this is a new change, we need to watch out how this would change things for click through rates. It could have a negative impact. There could be fewer clicks on simple searches. However, there is a chance that we could also get more clicks when people are searching for more complex queries. They can be engaged and enticed by the longer description, and that’s we should aim for for your business.
- It could impact the click-through rate for sites that rank lower
If your site is not on the number one spot of the search results, there is a chance that your click through rate will suffer. When people get the information they need from the first listing, they are less likely to scroll down to see the rest of the results.