Only in December 2017 Google had given more space to the snippets (i.e. the short presentations or link tips on the search results pages). Instead of the meta-description running over only two lines, there were now three or even four lines possible. Now Google shows that it can also play the role backwards: since this week snippets are again only displayed in two lines. This returns Google to the process before the December 2017 change.
GOOGLE STILL DOES NOT GIVE LENGTH RECOMMENDATIONS
Danny Sullivan, spokesman for Google’s public relations team, has now confirmed the change in a tweet. According to this, the snippets are a little longer than before December (which is not true so far, see below). Nevertheless, Google still leaves all doors open. According to Sullivan, Google does not give a general recommendation for the length of snippets. The display shows what the algorithms think makes the most sense for the respective search query.
From an SEO point of view, this “look and see if it fits” information is of course of little help. Finally, the display on the search results page affects the click-through rate. According to studies, users of snippets mainly pay attention to the title (i.e. the headline) as well as the URL, but in case of doubt an appealing description is decisive for users to click on a page. Since Google does not help here, the SEO scene has to help itself. The following has been found out so far:
HOW LONG SHOULD META-DESCRIPTIONS BE?
According to RankRanger, the average length of descriptions displayed in Germany on May 18 was only around 151 characters for the desktop view. There is even less space available in the mobile view. In its review, the seo-nerd® came to average lengths of 110 to 115 characters. At the moment, however, it looks as if these are approximate values at best.
Our recommendation for writing meta-descriptions is: Try to include all the essentials in the first 110 characters so that the user understands what he or she can expect on the page. If you expect your customers to use desktop computers (typical for B2B offers), you can also work with 150 characters.
Since Google decides for itself in more than half of the cases what is written in the description (and often also chooses excerpts from the text of the page), your descriptions can and should be longer anyway. If you’ve already expressed the most important thing within the 110/150 mark, you can use as much text as you like to place a call to action.
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE NEW CHANGEOVER?
That always depends on which users you are thinking about. Basically, not much changes for mobile users. They are much more strongly influenced by the recent deletion of pagination in the mobile SERP display. In mobile use, scrolling down is part of the normal habit anyway.
The situation is different with desktop use. People don’t like to scroll around here. Users therefore often choose one of the results that they see at first glance (above the fold). By changing back to shorter descriptions, two to two and a half results become more visible with the usual status settings (1366*768 or 1920*1080). This means that the positions seven and eight in the search results in particular benefit from Google’s latest turnaround.