Whenever we search for something on Google, it displays the results along with some descriptive text below the result link. This descriptive text provides some information about what the page is and helps users decide whether the result is relevant to their query. These short texts are known as snippets and they are a huge part of the user experience for every Google user. Recognizing their pivotal role in the same, Google has decided to make some changes to the length of the snippets and make them more descriptive. This will lead to longer snippets and descriptive search results.
More Details about the changes
Google rolled out these changes which revolve around the snippet features of the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The changes have been brought about mainly in two ways which are:
Google has increased the length of the text that is included in the snippet. Earlier, the standard limit of a text in snippets has been limited to the ranges of 160-180 characters for optimal use. Many websites ideally use the number of 165 characters. After the new update, there’s no official call on what the new limit is but suggested numbers show that up to 300 characters can now be included in the text part of the snippet.
Google has introduced some changes to the guidelines that revolve around these snippets. The Google Guidelines were updated to be in compliance with the character length change that was made to the snippets.
The update has been rolled out for quite some time now. According to online tracking tools and websites, search engine results started showing up with larger text snippets from as far back as November 2017. Although the update is a few months old, not many site owners have taken a note of these changes.
How the character limit affects the results?
We live in the age of everything instant and quick. With the mobile platform taking over the majority of data traffic, people often depend on Google searches about general queries or just knowing more about a peculiar term. For example, someone queries the term “Net Income” in Google. With earlier character limits, the definition or a summary of a search result page might get cut off midway. But after increasing the text length for snippets, there’s a probability that people might get the whole information that they are looking for right in the snippets section. An argument can be made that this is not the complete story or some details are missing. But some search queries are not made for details, just for a basic summary for understanding.
This change in the character limit reduces the need for a user to click on a website link and visit the web page for further details. Chances are that a basic summary of a query can be found out right in the snippets section. When considering mobile platforms, this can be considered a bigger improvement with text lines increased from two to three to now five or six lines per search result. The need for instant results can be satisfied in a better way by Google for an improved user experience.
The Aftermath of longer snippets
If you thought that increased text snippets are the only changes that are expected to come out of this, you are mistaken. The whole idea of increasing character limits was making search results more relevant and detailed, every SEO company including this step in his SEO Plans and Packages. This gives the user a choice to decide which result they want to click through, if at all. Now this choice will be one of the major consequences or aftereffect of the change introduced to snippets.
Before, snippets had some amount of information displayed under the result. If the information was incomplete, people clicked through to visit the web page for more information. With the change, there’s a probability that people wouldn’t need to do that. Thus, the click-through rates or CTRs will be affected as a result. It is still early to prove this with a dataset as the time period is too small but this change can be expected in the future.
It’s well known how tough it is to be ranked on the first page of Google search results and even tougher to be displayed as the first result. With the rolled out snippet changes, more scrolling will be required as more text will be displayed along with the results. This will make rankings all the more crucial as people might avoid scrolling to the bottom of the page. The competition might get tough to be ranked higher but this means that marketers and site owners will invest and work on improving the quality of their website.
And at last, we come to Meta descriptions. These are basically, a summary or a description of what is contained in the content of the webpage. With rankings becoming more valuable and contested than ever, providing descriptive and comprehensive Meta descriptions can actually lead to an increase in rankings. Provided that these might come at a cost of the click-through rate, a higher ranking means better visibility and isn’t that the base of every SEO strategy?
We all know that the future is mobile first and the optimization strategies for websites have to adapt accordingly to such changes. SEO Service Providers now have a reason and a motivation to look at Snippets in an entirely different manner. The Meta descriptions might need to be optimized but there should be no rush to change the old ones quite yet. Liaisons from Google have verified the fact that the snippet change and selection is a dynamic process. And this process involves both the content as well as the Meta description. Usually, Google goes with displaying the Meta description but that is not always the case.
SEO strategies will change but their focus should be on their most important landing pages. Their Meta descriptions need to be optimized first ass the process is dynamic. Protocols might be updated to provide a boost to SEO services.