Marketing 5 min read

What do Google's Longer Snippets Mean for Snippet Optimization?

You just put words in there and then, boom, information! | silvabom | Shutterstock

You just put words in there and then, boom, information! | silvabom | Shutterstock

Google just announced an increase in their snippet length.This means you need to change your approach towards snippet optimization. This article will help you do just that.

Snippets are basically Google’s way of predicting what information users are looking for and providing it in an instant.

Snippets appear on both mobile and desktop devices, making them even more important to SEO. If you want your content to rank, you need to stay updated to achieve full snippet optimization.

google snippet search
A very meta depiction of a Google snippet. |

Before, Google snippets were very short. They provided a few details followed by ellipses. This would usually entice the reader to click on the page to find out more.

However, recent changes mean that snippets are longer and more informative.

This minor update calls for major changes in snippet optimization. If you want to hold onto your ranking position, you need to keep on top of these changes.

How Have Google Snippets Changed?

Basically, there are two parts to this change.

  1. An increase in Google snippet length.
  2. An update to the Google snippet guidelines.

The previous guidelines told us to keep meta description tags short (between 160 and 180 characters). Now, there is no official recommended length for meta descriptions. However, after some research, you’ll see that hardly any go beyond 300 characters.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Featured Snippets in Google Search

What’s in a Google Snippet?

Most snippets are written using the meta description. Information is taken from the meta description tag of a page.

Before these changes, snippets had a shorter character limit. Although, slight changes were seen to this in mid-December. Google started to give longer snippets for specific search results. Since then, snippets have grown.

Now instead of two or three lines, Google provides us with up to six lines of text in a single snippet. That’s around 270 words. Google displays more through answers rather than showing just, well, a snippet.

Before, snippets did not give a very thorough explanation, but most searchers don’t want this. Usually, they want an instant nugget of information that they can digest in seconds. This change feeds this need.

Thanks to this snippet extension, users no longer have to click through to a page to find the information they need.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to This Snippet Update

Snippet changes could be seen from around mid-November. Since then, around 51% of search results have displayed longer snippets.

If it’s such a big change, then why just over half?

Many sites have not been aware of the changes.

This has meant that Google is still pulling old meta descriptions that are optimized for the old 165-character limit. This means they are still very short.

That means you should strike while the iron is hot. If you are in charge of updating your page, you should do it now.

By staying one step ahead of the competition, you may be able to get more traffic from organic searches and also jump ahead of your competitors. Chances are that your competitors have not noticed these changes yet, so the opportunity is yours to take.

How Do Longer Snippets Affect SEO?

There are a few things you need to take into account thanks to these new changes@

A) You Need to Change the way you Write Meta Descriptions for Snippet Optimization

Thanks to this snippet update, we now have more space. This will impact the way marketers write and optimize meta descriptions.

Think carefully about how you are presenting information for full snippet optimization.You want to entice users to click through while also providing the information they are looking for.

It might seem like sacrificing clicks by giving too much information away in search results. But it is essential to provide useful info in snippets if you want to rank.

B) Your Click-Through Rate may be Impacted

So you’ve guessed it, these changes are probably going to impact your click-through rate.

More than likely, this impact will be negative. People looking for quick answers won’t need to visit your page.

However, it’s also possible that people looking for more in-depth knowledge will be more likely to click. It’s possible the longer snippet will entice them more than the shorter one would.

C) SEO will be even more competitive

Obviously, longer snippets are going to take up more room in search result pages. That means people probably won’t scroll down as far.

This is good news for pages ranking higher. These will get even more clicks, however, the pages further down are likely to suffer.

Lower rankings are going to have even less value than before. The gap between rank one and four, for example, is going to widen. This means SEO is going to get even more competitive, and important.

Read More: How to Rank in Google Featured Snippets

What do you Need to do to Keep up With Snippet Changes?

In order to achieve full snippet optimization, you should take the following steps;

  1. Prioritize your most important landing pages. You will probably already have a good idea of these by looking at search traffic. Figure out which are your top pages. Then, re-optimize the meta descriptions for the longer character counts first.

 2. Next, update your internal processes or CMS. These probably have rules set to the old         limits. Change these to the new 230-320 character limit.

So there you have it. Who would have known that such a subtle change to snippets would have such a big impact on SEO? All you have to do is keep on top of snippet updates to make sure your pages get the traffic they deserve.

How else can you achieve snippet optimization? 

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

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Alexander De Ridder

Alexander crafts magical tools for web marketing. He is a smart creative, a builder of amazing things. He loves to study “how” and “why” humans and AI make decisions.

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