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Snippets show increased length of description, how best to manage

     
2:14 pm on Jan 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
since december 2017 snippets often display increased meta descriptions of about 300 characters.
Sure, max. number of characters may vary, but not the max. pixel length for descriptions which Google Serps show.

Does anybody know the new max. pixel length, desktop and mobile (smartphone)?
Is there any online preview tool showing the pixel length of descriptions for testing purposes (desktop and mobile)?


Thanks,

deeper
6:39 pm on Jan 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I hate to say it depends, but it depends.
I think this article does a good job covering the different lengths out there based on content type
[searchenginejournal.com...]

It sites a META description of 277 characters for the search “non-disclosure agreement” (Wikipedia article in standard result), 247 characters for the search term “chicken parmesan recipe” (video result with thumbnail), and a 385-character long snippet is shown for the search term “non-compete agreement” (Wikipedia again)

Several SERP simulation tools are out there. I like [technicalseo.com...] because you are able to adjust the description length, which will allow you to see truncations at common breakpoints.

[mobileserps.com...] has a nice interface showing mobile results.
2:27 am on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My question is about max. pixel length, not the number of characters...
5:04 am on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Pixel length of what? I hope G### will not have the infernal gall to decide that people with diminished eyesight--requiring larger fonts--must also have diminished cognitive capacity--resulting in a shorter display.
2:18 pm on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Pixel length of your (title tag and) meta description in Google snippets.

As far as I know G always has limited the max. length of titles and descriptions which they show as snippets by pixel length. At least for technical reasons this makes sense.
At the moment there are 600 px for your title and only god knows how many pixels for the description since december 2017. Couldn't find a thread about it here and obviously nobody has tested it with reliable results.

Therefore many words starting with "W" and "M" in your title and description will result in less words and characters in your snippet.

IMHO many users don't like reading three lines of text in order to choose the right website, but about half of all snippets now show increased descriptions between 250 and 320 characters. Whatever strategy webmasters and Google may have: the only reliable starting point for SEO is the max. length of snippet-descriptions.
3:56 pm on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The reason is pretty simple. Hopefully with that expanded description, Google is hoping you find your answer and thus don't require a click through to the website or a website period. I know this works because first and foremost I use Google as a normal user. This is saving me having to click to a site and thus costing others traffic and revenue. Enjoy!

So how to best manage? To me it's the realization that #2 spot, #3 spot, etc, all go further down the page or onto page 2. Less real estate and with increased chances of people getting their answer before finding my site link, I'm making smarter decisions with my time and money regarding this so-called partnership.
5:28 pm on Jan 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I know what you mean, but this depends on both your goals and user intentions. Searching for simple answers and webmaster providing informational pages for example. Even then a lot of them may click on your snippet, like they often do even on featured snippets. And hey, people who are satisfied with some lines in your description... do you really think they are good "customers" in any way and lifting your convertion rates?

IMHO this is not a great danger for webmaster. I realize bigger dangers by wikipedia and people clicking on their snippets.
Sometimes Wikipedia gets a rich card or featured snippets and several rankings on Googles first page at the same time. How to compete with this? Didn't Matt Cutts say that Google considers diversity?

I don't like testing and changing each time Google changes their snippets, but I also don't like to give them full control just by leaving metas empty.
2:04 pm on Feb 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I can agree that the longer descriptions have an impact on the CTR.

We ran a test on 4 different sites, shortening the description to be 2 rows. We saw an uplift in CTR from +1,86% to 40,05% while even loosing impressions / SERP position. While this is not statistically significant by any means, it still showed us that not utilizing the more available real estate results in more clicks.
1:33 pm on May 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Most of the snippets now show again the short version before december 2017 with about 150 characters!?

Does anybody notice and confirm the "rollback"?

Some descriptions show three lines and very few are about 300 characters, but the vast majority of snippets seem to have the former length of about 150 characters.
6:52 pm on May 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ironically the busiest shopping month is December. Combine that fact with ready2order's finding and you might start to get a bit cynical with the timing and subsequent roll back. Secret, secret, I've got a secret.
12:22 am on May 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"Most of the snippets now show again the short version before December 2017 with about 150 characters!"

I am seeing the rollback. My guess, all of that text was taking up too much ad space or drawing visitors away from clicking on the ads.
9:26 am on May 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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arrrgh... Google should have known better... o.k., there are always changes and modifications and there were still a lot of smaller descriptions since december 17, but it seems to be almost a complete rollback.

Invested a lot of time in creating optimized individual descriptions for a lot of pages with mostly about 230 characters.
1:53 pm on May 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Based on what ready2order said, essentially you were facilitating a drop in your own traffic. A puzzled look crossed my face as I pondered this.
8:24 pm on May 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Knowing how to use the place properly, more space is a good chance.

Let's assume you have a big page with a lot of good information, some main chapter and each with subchapter. Google says you should describe the content correct, precise and informative. As the user should understand the description, so you have to write complete sentences. And how to get the click? Just by describing the content? No, you have to do a bit more, being a bit creative by using CTA ect. It's o.k. to advertise, too. And last not least you need to use the KWs.

How to manage this all with about 150 characters? No way.
 

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