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Not In-Depth Video Summary of This Blog Post.

The length of search engine snippets are 320 characters (max) and it is official now, A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.

Sippets: Snippets are descriptions of search engine results mentioned under the title and the URL.



The average length before this update was 110 to 160 characters.

The algorithm update has raised a lot of questions and queries in website owners and SEO’s mind. Are you curious about it affects and what could be reasons behind the need for this update? Let’s dive into the details and try to come up with something that makes some sense.




  •  Let’s Take a Look at Few Recent Changes Google SERPs

Featured Snippet and Direct Answers




As seen in the snapshot above, The snippets not just there to answer the searcher’s directly but to make them discover more than just exactly what they typed to search. According to Michael Galvez, a product manager at Google:

Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery

These changes affected directly the CTR of high ranked pages, pages that got placed in featured snippets reported a major increase in organic traffic. Also, according to  Stone Temple Consulting, almost 1.4 million queries were tested and 30% of them showed featured snippets.

Another critical fact to be noted is the increase in voice searches, according to a study by Google, Almost 20% of all the mobile queries are the voices searches.

“50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” according to Comscore.

Voice searches don’t give search engines many options to deliver, They have only the featured snippet option to deliver to the searcher.


Keyword Targeting is in The Backseat Now, Search Intent is What Matters More


Long gone are the days where stuffing exact keywords in the title, URL and meta description mattered. It may still greatly affect rankings for bing and other search engines but for Google, Optimizing for searcher intent is what you should focus.

Keyword targeting and optimization does exist and is important but with a lot more factors involved then it was before. Of course, everything we do in this phase does involve playing around with phrases and words.

A very simple example to explain the keyword intent:

searching for the keyword “mom bags” on google may give you the following results.




and the same search query for bing may give you the following results.




I’m not going to go in depth and discuss each result but Google does a great job satisfying my search intent as someone searching for “mom bags” could be more interested in knowing about these products as well as compared to buying and Google did exactly show the results containing more detailed blog posts as compared to bing SERPs.

While bing search engine result is more focused towards the exact keywords which resulted in more e-commerce and pages that sell products.

WordStream did a great job explaining the keyword intent here.


  •  Where is Google Headed Towards with All These Updates?

One thing I’m damn sure about this search engine is, it is extremely smart and is better than any human to understand your search intent and delivers extremely relevant results as compared to any other search engine.

That’s not the whole thing this search engine desires to deliver, but delivering the results that exactly satisfy the user intent as well as expected intents that may arise after being satisfied with whats acknowledged and received by the user. That’s what I think soo far.

There are many more factors and reasons behind these mentioned updates as well. But, that is not what this blog post is about.

Google is more likely to rank pages that delivers not just exactly what the users looking for but also what a user may look after finding that specific results as well.

Let me give you an example of this.

Let’s say you want to search on “How to fly a quadcopter”. Here is what comes up.




but what are most expected things you may look after finding the perfect resource on exactly how to fly a quadcopter. Here are the related searches that came up on the same search engine page.


And here is the content of the page which ranks first for the keyword “how to fly a quadcopter?”.




See! the page contains way more than what exactly is being asked by users while searching “how to fly a quadcopter?”. But, make sure you cover the base intent extremely well and in full depth before you target the secondary intents. Got the point? No? Here is the complete SEO case study by Robbie Richards on how he achieved this.


How is All This Related to 320 Characters Meta Description Update?

According to a study from Brian Dean who analyzed over 1 million pages.

Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.

So, the average first page results contain on average of approx. 1900 words and most probably primary and secondary intents. Do meta description of 160 characters seems like a fair space?  Especially for the pages that target multiple search intent in-depth. I guess not.

Also, there is a greater chance that Google wants to make the snippets more and more dynamic to highlight more about the demanded terms, and queries as well. I personally have noticed many search results snippets that didn’t contain what I was looking for but when I opened that pages, It contained many useful and helpful information for what I’ve searched for. So, I guess they are covering improvements in this room as well.


How to Optimize for New Meta Description Update.


According to Danny Sullivan, who joined Google in Oct-2017 as a public liaison



The snippets are going to be more and more dynamic sooner or later. So, there is no need to rush and update all the meta descriptions to match the 320 characters limit. Let the google do this job as well, We can’t be that dynamic as much as Google can be in this matter. But, you can put the effort into improving and optimizing content and let the Google know what is in there and what is not.


How This Update May Affect Search Engine Rankings?


I consider this update to be one more step forward in terms of relevance and quality contents being visible more also eliminating the low performing ones. In-depth, well written and intent optimized content may receive more significant traffic and CTR.

The CTR & bounce rate may become more important ranking factors in algorithms as they directly relate to snippets and user satisfaction.



Even though it is not among the major updates but an important one. It may affect the CTR for many pages.

It is a clear message that snippets are going to be more dynamic and customized or personalized differently for different type of queries and searches.

More information directly readable in SERPs may result in the opening of fewer links but will direct the traffic towards the most relevant pages.

In-depth and intent optimized content may have a plus point which they deserve it anyway.


Let me know your best thoughts on this update in the comment section. Thank You 🙂



About the Author:

JD Aadam

JD Aadam

JD Aadam is an SEO consultant, speaker and a blogger with realistic visions and aim to aware people as much as possible about the right and wrong SEO practices and eliminate the so-called SEO gurus. Read More


  1. Arsalan

    very informative 🙂

    • jdaadam

      Thank You 🙂


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