SEO Google’s Text in Search

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By Lauren Lawton Perfors

By Lauren Lawton Perfors

Web Developer

Small business WordPress developer with 10+ years experience in digital marketing, specializing in SEO.

Google has been pushing to lengthen text snippets in Google search results for a long time. They first started in that direction a year and a half ago, lengthening page titles and meta descriptions. In the last week, Google has gone all gung-ho allowing much longer text snippets to appear in search results. That means more real estate for YOUR small business website text to appear at the top of search results. Take advantage! read on to learn more.

Why Google is doing this

The faster the web gets, the faster we, as searchers, expect results. Google is trying to satiate our ever-increasing demand for receiving the answers we want, faster. If we never have to click through to the website because Google delivers what we want to know right in the search results, all the better for us as searchers (in many cases). As we use our phones more and our big ol’ desktops less, the need increases for getting answers with less clicks. Google is not just making snippets longer. What they’re really doing is giving themselves more flexibility: if they think a snippet answers the question in 289 characters, they’re going to show them all. It’s a more dynamic approach to the SERP (search engine results page).

Where the change will show up in small business

This is likely going to have the most impact on the most basic, informational, and definition-based searches. That means that people who have used click-bait strategies like providing definitions of terms in their industry may see their click-through rate go down. For example, if your site in the past drove a lot of traffic for the search “what does HR stand for,” you will find that your site gets less traffic for that term because Google is now answering that question right on the search results page. There’s no need to click through to another website to provide the answer “human resources.” You won’t see much of a traffic impact on your keyword terms for specific searches. Nobody can answer, for example, terms like…

  • Wheat Ridge city hall meeting minutes
  • how do I find a good fence contractor in my neighborhood
  • denver construction company

What your small business should spend time improving descriptions for SEO

There are some places where you should revise your small business website meta descriptions and snippets to include an answer to a specific query right in search results. Do that, and do it better than your competitors, and Google will choose your text as the answer to pull in to the top of search results. For example…

  • average price of a wood fence in Denver
  • when is the next Arvada city hall meeting
  • how long are most Denver leases
  • what is a bearing wall

Put an average fence price right in the snippet. Change out the date of the next city hall meeting and put it right in the snippet when you announce it. Answer the easy question right in that snippet or description

Why should I provide the answer for Google to steal for their search results page?

Because Google is going to do it anyways. We can shake our fists at Google, but then we have to play the SEO game to keep traffic flowing. Google using your answer validates your response, presents your site to a searcher as the best source of industry information, and builds your brand credibility. If you have to pick whether to stay visible in search results or to be replaced by a competitor, which would you choose?

See this example in action right now by searching for “history of little man ice cream denver”:See how prominent Little Man’s website is, including a logo and premier placement? That’s because the page provided the direct answer to the search query.

Remember…

  1. Just because you change your snippet/description, that does not guarantee that Google will use the entire thing. Right now, SEOs are saying that on average at least 50% of the time, 1 of every 10 results will show a long snippet. That’s not a lot simple_smile. That means the other 8 or 9 of 10 results on page 1 of Google are still showing shorter 2-3 line snippets. Do not lengthen all of your description snippets banking on being that 1 out of 10 at this point, because you will most likely end up showing incomplete descriptions more often than not.
  2. The blog is a great spot to experiment. So, if you are going to lengthen descriptions anywhere, do it on the blog.
  3. Don’t forget mobile, which is well over 50% of searches. If Google made mobile search results as long as they’re now showing on desktop, nobody would make it past the first result

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