Longer Snippets at Google Means…?

by Megan Slick April 3rd, 2009 

I've been considering writing about description tags but thought it might be a bit blahsay for SEO Scoop (as industry people know that well written description tags help control what the search engines use for their snippets and improve click through rate). Then I read the Google blog, Angie Haggstrom's and Marshall Kirkpatrick's posts on Google's acquiring Orion and introducing longer snippets.

Google said on their blog on March 24th:

“When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context. In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page.”

This is a fascinating new development. Google has recognized that searchers who use long tail queries use the snippet to make their clicking decisions and have decided to make higher quality snippets to avoid click back with these searchers. Angie's article posses the question, should we start writing longer meta descriptions? I haven't tested this but I believe we should write longer description tags (especially if we see Google grabbing long snippets from our body copy that we don't want them to). We need to keep in mind most SERPs are going to show the first 150 characters only when writing our meta descriptions. Just as before, the meta description tag should be concise, inciting, and informative. This will cover all of your bases.

Another article I found by Marshall Kirkpatrick on www.readwriteweb.com regarding this topic brought up the excellent point that longer snippets are going to keep searchers on Google longer and maybe alleviate the need for searchers to go to your website. I completely agree with Marshall. This means your meta descriptions are going to be even more important in getting searchers to click through. Your pages' snippets are going to have to capture searchers to create click through.

Some Tips:

  • Use engaging language
  • Avoid using cliché sales language, “biggest, best, cheapest” (this raises searchers' red flags)
  • Be concise – write in sound bites (you never know what Google is going to use for the snippet)
  • Be information but leave something to the imagination so searchers have to click through
  • Use keywords and natural connector words in your body copy and meta description (be natural)
  • Experiment with longer meta descriptions if Google is pulling a large chunk of text from your page that you don't want them to

This will be interesting to keep an eye on. Have any of you noticed changes with your pages' snippets or traffic changes?

Megan Slick - SEO CopywriterMegan Slick is a freelance SEO copywriter. If you would like to read more of her writing, check out her SEO Copywriting blog.

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3 Responses to “Longer Snippets at Google Means…?”

  1. Tom Bradshaw says:

    Interesting article, I haven't noticed these longer snippets for any of my sites – but it's something to keep an eye on. i also like the tips you've given – useful advice, something I should put a little more thought into.

  2. Nice tips. I just noticed that longer descriptions start to show up in the search results for Dutch websites.
    Allthough there was a problem 2 days ago. Google just showed some weird utf 8 characters in their results.

  3. [...] Additionally, while we generally use longer Meta descriptions at PRO Webs in any case, at SEO Scoop, the discussions reagarding the possibility of a longer Meta description to combat this is a very good [...]