Google confirms it shortened search results snippets after expanding them last December
Time spent increasing meta descriptions for the longer Google search results snippets may have been wasted.
Google has confirmed that only about five months after increasing the search results snippets, it has now decreased the length of these snippets. Danny Sullivan of Google wrote, “Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks.” He added that they are now “… slightly longer than before a change we made last December.”
Google told Search Engine Land in December that writing meta descriptions doesn’t change with longer search snippets, telling webmasters back then that there is “no need for publishers to suddenly expand their meta description tags.”
Sullivan said, “There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful. He added, Google will not state a new maximum length for the snippets because the snippets are generated dynamically.
RankRanger’s tracker tool puts the new average length of the description snippet field on desktop at around 160 characters, down from around 300+ characters…
… while mobile characters for the search results snippets are now down to an average of 130 characters:
Here is Danny Sullivan’s confirmation:
If you went ahead and already lengthened your meta descriptions, should you go back and shorten them now? Google’s advice is to not focus too much on these, as many of the snippets Google chooses are dynamic anyway and not pulled from your meta descriptions. In fact, a recent study conducted by Yoast showed most of the snippets Google shows are not from the meta description, but rather they are from the content on your web pages.