Longer Google Snippets  

  • By Roni Landau
  • 11 Jan, 2018

Google has  increased the character limits for snippets , from 165 characters to about 320, so you have more room to write engaging descriptions for your websites and site pages. These descriptions, known as meta descriptions, should inform searchers about what they can expect to learn or understand from the page.

This means it’s a perfect time to update your site meta descriptions, improving your sites’ presence and enticing more visitors to click-through from Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

First, a few words about snippets

Snippets are the short paragraphs displayed on a SERP that describes a web page or website. For example:

These are the top two results for “ice cream” on the Google SERP. Note that they are both longer than the old 165-character limit.

Snippets are important because they are the text that potential visitors see after they make a search query. If a snippet is enticing, visitors will click-through. If it’s not, they’ll scroll until they find one that is.

Google won’t always display the meta description you write on the page as part of the snippet. Depending on the search that’s performed, Google might display other text from the page that it feels is more relevant to the searcher's intent. If you write solid descriptions that help users understand the content of the page, you’re more likely to have your description shown on the SERP.

So, what's the change?

Until about two months ago, Google displayed a maximum of around 165 characters in every snippet. If a meta description was longer, excess text would be replaced with an ellipsis. Google tested higher length descriptions and found that they lead to higher click throughs and more engaged users, so they rolled out the higher limit to all websites.

With up to 320 characters available in both page and site snippets, you can write a lot more in your meta descriptions. Use the extra characters to give people a better idea of what the site is about and to persuade visitors to click-through. This will result in more targeted clicks, because people have a better idea of what the site/page is all about.

Adding/Updating meta descriptions in your sites

If you haven’t added meta descriptions to your sites before, now is the time to do it! If you do have meta descriptions, now is the time to update them. You don’t have to use all 320 characters, of course, but if there is something you can add that will give more value to potential site visitors, go for it!

Site and page descriptions

To add/edit a meta description for the entire site, go to Settings > SEO and scroll down to Site Description.
To add/edit the meta description that appears for any page, click Pages, click the settings cog beside any page, and then click SEO.

Best practice refresher?

Want a refresher about meta description best practices? Check out this article from Search Engine Land or this one from MOZ to refine your meta description writing skills.

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