How to get your search results snippets right
Google has announced that the length of its search results snippets has decreased, with the news coming just five months after the search engine giant revealed that it was increasing the length of these snippets.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Search Liaison, revealed the news by sending out the following Tweet: “[Google’s] search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks, though slightly longer than before a change we made last December. There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.”
While there is no fixed length for snippets, Search Engine Land has used RankRanger’s tracker tool in an attempt to get an average length set out for best practice. In its research, it found that the new average length of a description snippet field on desktop now stands at around 160 characters and the average length on mobile is near to 130 characters. These are both considerably less than the 300+ characters snippets which were being recorded in December 2017 when Google confirmed that it was increasing the search results snippets.
With less space to play with, how do you best approach writing a meta description in a manner that appeals to those finding out about your brand, services and products via a Google search and get potential customers clicking through to your website?
The first thing to take note of is that a meta description is not a ranking factor — instead, it should be playing an integral part of a brand’s ability to sell to someone carrying out a Google search.
With this in mind, make sure that a page’s meta description includes a keyword so that the snippet is directly referencing the product or service that the page is promoting. After all, a potential customer is likely to become annoyed if they click through to your website after becoming intrigued by something that you sell, but then must search more of your site before finding that exact product or service.
Your brand name should be included somewhere within each meta description that you write for your site too, as this will build up the brand picture in the eyes of the user and help people to tie products, services and sectors to your company.
As a meta description is not visible on your website — they are only seen underneath the page title on a search result page, as above — make sure to also sign off your meta description with a clear call-to-action that will prompt users to click through to your website (something like ‘enquire online’ or ‘learn more’ will be sufficient).
A USP can make your meta description eye-catching as well, so don’t be afraid to say that you offer free delivery or have an exclusive collection, as these are the elements that will make you stand out from your competitors on the search results.