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Google Changes SERP Title and Description Length

Jun 2, 2016, 10:37 AM | Published under Search Engine Optimization by Michael Hodgdon

Trying to say as much as you can about your business and its products or service in a few short words is not an easy task. You want to grab attention, but you don’t want to leave out any information you think could be a ‘make it or break it’ for CTR and conversions. Well, the good news is that Google seems to be testing out an extended character limit for Titles and descriptions in the SERPS. Now you can say what you need to say with a little elbowroom. But what does this change mean for SEO as a whole?

Title tags have increased from around 50-60 characters to 70-71. Likewise, Meta descriptions have increased by 100 characters for every line, and can now take up two to three lines total. This gives marketers plenty of word space to get their message across to searchers.

Google SERP comparison 

In the example above you can see the 2 line search results using “Colorado Springs Local SEO” as the search term, and using Colorado Springs Hotels (to the right) you see the 3 line results. As you can see, there are significant advantages to the 3 line results. The 3 line result will push competitor listings below yours further down the page and also offer more real estate to add more in depth descriptions, ultimately providing the potential benefit of increasing click through rate (ctr).

Google is constantly A/B testing. The increase in character space, albeit significant, could be temporary. Google has not officially announced any permanent update. Though the observed results prove to be beneficial to SEOs, SEMs, and users alike, SEOs should think twice before making their SEO moves based on these ‘test’ results.

HOW THIS COULD AFFECT SEO

The change has only been observed by a few. This Reddit thread notes that the initial change began in organic search on May 4th. But as May rolled on, more keen eyes took notice. The results are promising. CTR has improved, and if results continue to climb in a positive direction, the change could soon become permanent. One Redditor, Jonathan Jones, suggests that SEOs measure the CTR before the change took place and compare it with current results. So far, it seems as though the longer snippets make for a better CTR, in general.

If the change becomes permanent, SEOs should expect to see positive results. Searchers like being informed, and longer snippets allows users to click through to a site that provides exactly the information they are looking for. 

About the Author

Mike is the Marketing & SEO Director at Infront Webworks. An online entrepreneur since 1997, he has owned or run website design / SEO, online marketing and internet advertising companies for over 15 years. Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Colorado Springs Business Journal and with projects featured in N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, he has a solid track record of successful online undertakings. He is a certified Yext Partner, Google Certified in Analytics, Tag Manager, AdWords, Online Display Advertising, Shopping and Video Advertising.

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