OK, Panic! Google Updates Title & Description Lengths in SERPS
After discovering that Google has increased the lengths of the title and meta descriptions in the search results last week, the SEO community had one common reaction: panic!
This update was a result of another recent change made to the SERPs.
May Google Updates
Earlier this month, Google increased the pixel width of the search results layout from 500 to 600, in order to thin out extra white space and make room for 4 ads at the top of the SERPs and 3 ads at the bottom (Google has to make money, you know?).
Searching for the keyword “men’s clothing” populated these 4 ads at the top of the search results:
As scary as this might be for some, significant changes in favor of Pay-Per-Click advertising can also become major wins for SEO. In this case, the lengths of titles and metas have increased, meaning a greater potential to inform users (and search engines like Google) to read your listings and visit your website.
The new title length is 70-71 characters. The previous cutoff point before your title trailed off with dot-dot-dot was 55-60 characters.
This increase equates to an extra 2-4 words, which is perfect for adding your company name at the end. You can also opt for a geo-modifier in your title (e.g. Portland Oregon).
Mobile is no exception to the change. The following title has exactly 70 characters:
Descriptions have increased to 200 characters, which is 44 characters higher than what is was before.
Although they have never been considered a direct ranking factor, meta descriptions that include your target keyword, don’t go over the character length, and entice users to click on your listing can improve your SEO.
Interestingly enough, I have noticed that some meta descriptions are exempt to this update. Here is an example with 283 characters in length:
How Strong Titles & Metas Can Improve Your SEO
Writing titles and meta descriptions is considered an art in the SEO world. One extra word or character could cut off your text with the dreadful ellipses.
If your text does sound unique and compelling, then your click-through-rate is bound to increase. Granted that your website provides rich content and creates a user-friendly experience, users would then be more likely to stay on the site longer and complete filling out a form or purchase.
Are you seeking to outperform the competition while building brand awareness and conversions? Read the 12 Point Local SEO Checklist for Business Owners.
Local Businesses Win Again
If you are a small- or enterprise-level business that is seeking to improve your online presence in the Google search results, now is better than anytime to take center stage and shine.
Begin by pulling a Screaming Frog of your website. Create a column for your old titles and metas and another column for your new descriptions. Include the target keyword of a given page in both the title and meta description while keeping in mind that users will read this before visiting your website.
Not interested in ranking high in the local search results? Simply avoid taking any action to modify your descriptions and watch your competitors climb in the SERPs.
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