Google Changes Search Snippet Length Yet Again
Google has reduced search snippet length by almost half. This change comes less than 6 months after Google expanded search snippet length in December 2017.
The change was confirmed by Danny Sullivan via Twitter:
Our 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.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) May 14, 2018
RankRanger shows the average desktop snippet started falling a week ago, finally leveling off at 130 characters on May 12:
Mobile snippets are down to 130 characters on average.
Google Will Do What It Wants when Creating Snippets
Note the last two sentences in the tweet:
There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.
Further in the Twitter thread, Sullivan states that search snippet length is dynamic based on what Google thinks is best for the user:
The length of snippets is dynamic. We're not stating a maximum length because of this.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) May 14, 2018
What Does This Mean for You?
If you haven’t been changing your meta descriptions since December, this doesn’t impact you all that much (Google did say not to change the way you wrote descriptions).
However, if you’ve been focused on writing your descriptions to the max character count, users might not see that information.
However, your real takeaway here should be to not get caught up in character counts when writing descriptions.
This is in line with the research published by Yoast last month: Google simply does what it wants when it comes to describing a page in SERPs.
In their experiment, Yoast found that writing their own descriptions, regardless of character count or keyword density, didn’t have much of an impact on the description used in the search snippets.
Based on the latest change by Google, the statements from Googlers themselves and data collected by Yoast, the key takeaway for meta descriptions is to spend less time worrying about character count and keyword density and put all your attention on meeting the user need and intent.
In fact, based on Yoast’s conclusions, it might be time better spent focusing on your articles’ introductory paragraph, rather than meta description content.