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What Do Google’s New Longer Search Results Snippets Mean For Law Firms?

by Joe Balestrino • December 21st, 2017 • SEO | Blog

google search results snippetsSnippets are the explanatory text found below listings on Google’s search result pages. For the longest time, snippets have been limited to 165 characters. Recently though, Google made changes to their result pages to accommodate longer snippets. Today, they can go up to 230 characters, and sometimes more.

How Did the Change Come About?

Google had been experimenting with longer snippets under specific organic listings for a few months now. Just a few weeks ago the concept came out of testing, was put into actual practice across the board, and is assumed to be permanent.

Google didn’t make any official announcement about the change at first. It was only after some websites noticed the update that the search engine giant verified that the changes had indeed been made intentionally.

As for why the change was made, Google said the recent update to results makes snippets more useful for both website owners and searchers. The expanded version has been created to help the former create more descriptive content so that the latter can have a better understanding of how pages within results are relevant to their queries.

Based on data gathered by RankRanger, Google’s snippets can range between 160 and 230 maximum characters. According to the number one search engine, the exact number of characters that appear in results will depend on the individual search query. Search snippets don’t automatically have to be 230 characters on all results. A long snippet will only be shown if it is warranted by the query. That means a longer snippet is going to be generated dynamically if it’s the best way to meet the searcher’s online inquiry.

Related: Why You Need an SEO Audit for Your Law Firm Website

Where Will Google Get the Text For the Expanded Snippets?

Through a “dynamic process,” Google will now search through pages for content that better lines up with the query and intent of the online user. The search engine will then extract less than 300 characters from that page as a long snippet. In theory, the content can originate from any part of the page. However, in most cases, the snippet is usually the first few lines of the content, or the meta-description tag of the page.

What Do Longer Snippets Mean For Your Law Firm?

Given that longer snippets are going to be generated dynamically when needed, SEO managers don’t really have to do or change anything with the way they optimize their meta descriptions. This is actually what Google recommends.

If you weren’t already aware of it, Google doesn’t necessarily show the meta description that was manually entered for a page. Now and again, the search engine giant pulls a part of the text from the page content and uses that snippet in place of the meta description in results. As such, Google can now extract longer pieces of the content to use as snippets.

In response to this update, SEO managers should review their site and ensure that each page is centered around specific topics and the relevant keywords that users might use when searching for information on those topics. The more thoroughly a subject is covered, the more likely that Google will find a phrase (or phrases) on the page that will serve well in search results with these new, longer snippets. It would also be worth the time to update “short” meta descriptions if they can be made to describe page content more concisely by taking advantage of the extra space Google has made available.

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