Lately, we’ve been noticing something a little different in Google’s search results with some search queries resulting in more descriptive information in the result. The search result shown here illustrates this:
The normal size for a snippet description in Google’s search results has always been about 160 characters but recently, we have observed description snippets with as many as 317 characters. This kind of result was reported in Italian search results last November and also on Webmaster World, some users reported being offered optional “long” descriptions in results. However, we are seeing these results lately with no special preference settings.
We can only speculate on what is triggering the longer descriptions. We have noted that the longer the search query is, the longer the snippet. So, a search for a three-word search query leads to shorter descriptions like this one:
Two or three word queries result in normal short snippet sizes:
These results are not just local. They were reported here in Florida and a colleague up in Minnesota tells me he’s seeing them there too.
We have noticed that, as reported in the TechCrunch article mentioned earlier, the extra descriptive text is pulled from the page even if the page contains more text in the description tag so we see no reason to change existing Best Practices for description tag length.
Is this just something new that Google is testing or is this a real change in the way that Google displays search results? We’ll just have to wait and see.
In our next installment of optimizing Meta Data for a website, we look at the Description Tag. This tag is often the first description of a page the Search Engines and searchers will see. The Search Engines will see it when they crawl the page, and the searchers will see it when they have results displayed in the search results. If this tag is not utilized or left blank, the Search Engines will go else where on the site to find information to give to users in the search results, which means you have no control of what the searcher sees. By writing effective Description Tags, you have the chance to tell the Search Engines, and searcher what your specific page is about.
Tips for writing Effective Description Tags
When writing Description Tags, it is important to keep the searcher in mind. Writing unique and descriptive tags will help convert lookers to clickers. Research what is being displayed for your targeted keyword and then write a description that is appealing and different from the others displayed. This can be difficult so here are some quick tips to help in the process:
– Include Keywords — 2 times if possible. If two times doesn’t make sense or is not readable, don’t force it, once will do.
– Be Unique — What makes you different from your competition? Highlight these aspects in your Description Tag. It is also important to make it unique from all of the other pages on your site. Each page needs a different Description Tag.
– Be Creative — This is your chance to capture your target audience. Think about whom that is and write your tag in a way that will engage them.
– Limit to 180 Characters including spaces.
Like other Meta Tags, Description Tags are just a piece of the SEO pie. You are now one step closer to having a more optimized website.