Let's face it – even though there are multiple search engines out there, only one really matters: Google. As of December 2016, Google received the highest number of unique U.S. visitors, beating out top sites like Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft and continues to claim the largest piece of the pie when it comes to search engine market share. For brands, staying atop Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) equates to higher visibility, more web traffic and ultimately, more business.
A year after launching featured snippets, Google recently confirmed that the company is updating the way SERPs display snippets, which means the snippet's length will increase.
What Are Google Snippets?
Introduced in 2016, Google snippets were the search engine's way of capturing a site's synopsis in SERPs. This was a benefit for users because it was no longer required to click on a site to understand what it was about, thus saving time. For brands, this meant adopting a content and SEO strategy that ensured the business was represented accurately in snippets instead of simply writing a meta description.
Here is an example of how typical meta descriptions appeared in SERPs prior to the recent update:
Why Snippet Length is Increasing
As Google's goal to continually add relevance to its searches influences how it displays search results, webmasters have become accustomed to adjusting their approach to SEO and internet marketing. Once snippets were introduced, Google announced that its machine learning technology would extract relevant nuggets of information from a site's content and create a custom snippet. Google's leadership never publicly admitted to limiting the number of characters a snippet contained, but more users are noticing the length has increased.
An example of a longer snippet found recently appears here with a whopping 320 characters with spaces:
What Longer Snippets Mean for Brands
A new opportunity has emerged for companies seeking greater exposure in SERPs with the launch of longer snippets. The goal is no longer just to be the top result, but to be the most relevant top result. The time to act is now.
Now that Google's snippets are longer, brands must review existing content to ensure it speaks to their targeted audience, contains relevant, up-to-date information and is compelling enough to earn the all-important click.
Ongoing SEO Evaluation
The front end of internet marketing needs to be tweaked, but the back end shouldn't be forgotten. Brand SEOs must adjust their current practices to cater to Google's recent updates. RankRanger pointed out the that the increasing trend is not only affecting U.S. search results, but it is having an effect on a global scale.
Back-end metrics are going to be a vital asset the next few months (and beyond) as companies look to SEOs to keep their marketing strategy successful.
Less Clicks, More Relevance
Internet marketers and their clients now need to adopt a change in thought pattern. In the past, more clicks meant more clients and more sales. Now, there is evidence that websites will receive less traffic, but visitors will be more relevant, quality leads who are more likely to engage with brands. Fewer visitors may now be an asset to a brand's bottom line.
Now that Google is adjusting the length of snippets, brands need to adjust their marketing plans accordingly by updating existing content, work with SEO teams to review strategies and evaluate the relevance of SERPs for potential customers.