I am sharing my observations on Google snippet length changes seen in SERP titles and descriptions in Q4 2016.
I’ve observed that, aside from the length number limits, the change is also in the way Google’s algorithm decides how long the snippet will become. The outcome depends on the relevance to the searcher’s query and the searcher’s intent.
My conclusions below will explain how to expect searchers are now seeing your Google snippet in the SERPs. You will be able to formulate your own approach to writing web page titles and meta descriptions by referring to these observation conclusions.
Google Snippet Length Conclusions
- You can now write page titles up to 70 characters long.
- Google will show in the search result snippet the exact title you wrote – a) If it sees that you wrote a descriptive title of what your web page is about. b) And it matches the searcher’s query. Your title will get displayed in full length if it doesn’t go over the 70 character limit. It will get truncated otherwise.
- Google will show only part of your own title tag – and will suffix or prefix other words or your company name to further prove relevance of the search result to the searcher. The length of the displayed search result title will be up to 70 characters on desktop and 77 characters on mobile. Text-wrapping occurs when the snippet title goes over 70 characters. Truncation is unlikely in this case.
- Write your meta descriptions only up to 156 characters long – as usual.
- Google will show in the search result snippet the exact meta description you wrote – a) If it sees you wrote an accurate summary of your web page content. b) And, it matches the searcher’s query. The max length of 156 characters will apply. The search results snippet will get truncated if you wrote a meta description more than this length.
- Google will show what you have written as meta description – a) If it sees you wrote an accurate summary of your webpage content. b) And will append more information taken from the body of your web page to further prove relevance of the search result to the searcher. The length of the displayed search result snippet description can reach up to 3 lines of up to 104 characters per line on desktop. Or, up to 5 shorter lines of only 38 characters per line on mobile.
- Google will not use what you have written as meta description – and will replace it with information taken from the body of your web page. It is for proving relevance of the search result to the searcher. The length of the displayed search result snippet description can reach up to 3 lines of up to 104 characters per line. Or, up to 5 shorter lines of only 38 characters per line on mobile.
Wrapping it up…
So, now you probably have a better idea how the given the “new rules” listed above work. In the past, you are doing the right thing by simply following number limits. Today, your title and meta description must accurately represent your copy. Moreover, the need to show proof of relevance dictates how long the snippet description will be.
You are now given more leeway in terms of the increased allowable page title length. However, the leeway is in favor of the algorithm to decide whether to use, replace or expand your meta description.