Have you noticed the length of Google’s featured snippets (those page descriptions that show up on your search results) are now longer? Yep! Just when you thought you were gaining a handle on all this SEO stuff, Google mixes it up again! A few weeks ago, Google decided to end the 160-180 character limit. As far as I know, there isn’t a maximum number of characters allowed but some people are suggesting no more than 300 characters. Let’s see how longer featured snippets will affect you – both as a user and if you have your own website.
Longer featured snippets are an Opportunity to Improve SEO
If you are customizing the meta description manually, this may be an opportunity for you to increase the length of your description. It provides more opportunity to include your keyword or better explain the purpose of your page so your page ranks higher in Google’s search results.
If you let Google dynamically populate your featured snippet, it’s best to leave things alone. Google considers what words are being used in a search and can grab content from your site to customize the snippet you see in a search. Take a search for our local zoo as an example. If I search “zoo Seattle” this is what Google gives me this:
By contrast, a search for “zoo Washington State” clearly gives a different (and longer) featured snippet:
Whether you manually create your featured snippet (by editing the meta description on the back end) or let Google populate it dynamically, taking the time to review your snippets can never be bad for SEO.
Longer Featured Snippets are Less Restrictive
Ever struggle with getting your point across with before Twitter expanded their 140 character limit? The same goes for featured snippets. It’s now easier and quicker to include the info you want to show up in the search results. No more rewording things to try to get the best bang for your buck. Less time on SEO means you can put that time towards other things your website and/or business needs.
Longer Featured Snippets Create a Better User Experience
Longer featured snippets benefit everyone, really. It makes it easier when you or a potential client/customer wants to search for something. You can more easily find what it is you’re searching for without having to click on multiple sites or do multiple searches. It may even help you determine more quickly which link you’re actually going to click on.
Increased featured snippets are a win all around. Perhaps this change is forcing you to review your SEO – which can only make your site better. It can help generate more traffic to your site. Last, but definitely not least, it makes it easier for the user (you or a potential client/customer) to find what they’re actually searching for.