About mid-November 2017, Internet watchdogs began to notice new, longer snippets on Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). In December, Google confirmed that it was allowing longer snippets. Their goal was to facilitate user searches and to make the descriptions displayed in search lists.
The Change to Snippets
Previously, snippets were restricted to 165 characters. The new limit will be 320 (more or less), which allows web pages to create more meaningful metadata. The change is like to adjust the metrics usually used to determine the success or lack thereof for a website. One of the metrics most likely to change is the number of clicks on the full-length article because the snippet will be more likely to answer viewer questions without a click-through. It is certain that it will affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)
Marketers will need to change their metadata and snippet selection
With more characters to play with, marketers will be able to add words to their previous metadata or snippet selections. This can increase reader interest as it allows writers to more fully describe the material they have contributed. This is in line with Google’s intentions, which is to better serve people who are browsing the web or searching quickly for the perfect article to answer questions or complete a composition.
Impact on Click-Through Rate Remains to Be Seen
Click-through occurs when a reader selects an item from a search list and looks at the full article. The hoped-for result is that readers will be intrigued by the added information and want to see more. The fear is that because their question has been answered, they will go no further than the SERP. This will also impact PPC (pay per click) because if traffic is not driven to the website, then readers will not see the ads on the landing page.
Increase Importance of being high in SERP
Because the snippets are longer, they will take up more space in the result list. Therefore, where four or five results might formerly have been listed on the first search engine result page, now perhaps only two or three will be displayed. Experience and statistics teach that Internet users rarely go beyond the first page, and almost never go farther than the third page of search results.
How Should SEOs respond?
SEOs should definitely take advantage of the new longer length, which has officially been extended from the former 160-180 character length to 230 to 320. It gives more room to create an enticing message that will (hopefully) encourage those click-throughs.
Keep up with other changes in SEO for additional advantages for higher traffic rate, but don’t forget that gimmicky SEO techniques will only go so far. You not only want a high traffic rate, you want the right traffic – the kind that will generate conversion. Conversion refers to gaining a desired result. If your website is intended to sell a product or a service, then it would include a sale or a lead. If your site is an opinion or information blog, then it might refer to the number of comments. If you are paying for your website by using PPC, then clicks on ads are the desired conversion.
Don’t Panic – This Could Be a Good Thing
Since customer satisfaction often leads to increased business or responses of whatever sort, the longer snippets could easily be a very good thing. Just keep in mind that people might not notice that they are getting more information, and they are likely to still be slow to go beyond that first SERP. Quality is going to be of high importance when writing your snippet – even more than it was when it was a short part of your over-all writing endeavors.
More words in your metadata mean more options for SEO, and a greater opportunity for search engines to find your material. That could easily counterbalance the loss of click-through viewers. More than that, it could eliminate bounce back – viewers who click through, but only remain on your website a minute or so and then leave.
Diminishing Bounce Back with Longer Snippets
Since one of the reasons for viewer leaving is discovering that the material covered in a website is not relevant to the viewer’s needs, the longer snippets could reduce that considerably. Therefore, even if you have fewer click-throughs, the potential is there for viewers to stay longer – especially if you have high-quality, relevant material that meets their needs. So, take a deep breath, and write those longer snippets – and make them count.