In breaking news, Google has increased the length of the snippets it displays in the search results under the title and URL. The snippet is also known as the meta description (at least that’s the mark-up on the web page this snippet is supposed to pull from) and is used as a blurb to explain to the searcher what the page contains so they can make a decision as to whether they wish to visit it or not. It used to be that roughly 156 characters of text would appear in that space and any more would be truncated (cut off) in the search results.
Google doesn’t always honour what is set by the website owner as the meta description on the page, instead it will create its own if it feels it is more relevant to the query that triggered that result. It is still a good idea to set a default meta description as the ones Google provides don’t tend to be very well written to encourage users to click through to your web page.
Tracking tools are registering the length of the snippets increasing from 156 to around 320 characters on average. Essentially, this means that you don’t have to be quite as pithy in your meta descriptions and can include a few more enticing calls to action to get your audience to click through to your website instead of a competitor’s.
Google has confirmed to industry news site Search Engine Land that they “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.”
Google is changing the results it supplies the Google Assistant and Google Home. Soon, on any device where Google Assistant is available, if you ask for a local contractor (e.g., “Ok Google find me a locksmith”). A conversation will be started which will result in Google providing you with the information of a local service provider. Users will be given the option in some cases to be connected to an available contractor by phone straight away or get a list of recommended contractors.
At the moment if you ask Google Home for a local service provider you’ll get three results with address information but little else. The new functionality will provide a much fuller experience that will hopefully give users all the information they will need to get in touch with a professional without having to resort to viewing the information on a screen.
The company announced it’s working with local home service providers “like HomeAdvisor and Porch” to provide pre-screened contractors, adding an extra layer of reassurance for users to trust the results they are being served. It’s not clear at the moment whether these partners will receive preferential ranking in the Google Assistant results or not however.
As always, this will be rolling out in the US first but stay tuned, if it is successful over there, you can bet it will be rolled out in the UK soon
Google shared that the local Question & Answer feature, previously only accessible using the mobile Maps App, that rolled out back in August is now available on desktop search.
So, if you have someone ask a question on your Google My Business listing about your business you don’t have to turn to the mobile app in order to answer it but you can use your desktop computer or access it via the mobile interface.
This will make it even easier for you to keep on top of the questions your audience are asking and make sure you’re the first one to answer them accurately and politely!