Google is on its trend of making significant changes on its search results page. Recently, an important redesign has meant that the search engine has modified the width of the main column on the search engine results page, which has had an impact on key elements such as tags, title and description of the results displayed.
Google has enlarged the search results column from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, reducing the blank space between the results and the elements on the lateral bar (from 65 pixels to 60).
This change has had its repercussion on the configuration of the search results: the search engine seems to have increased the limit posed to the length of the title tags on the SERPs, and on the other hand, the descriptions are also undergoing changes on their length and appearance under the search results, especially the featured snippets.
Longer Title tags
The length of the titles has been extended to 70-71 characters. The recommended length for titles would increase from 55 to 60 characters, as we know can include up to 70-71 characters. The increase is significant.
Since Google eliminated the advertisements from the right side of SERPs, the results page configuration has got more width to play with, making it possible to add more keywords to the title, which can give way to more informative and optimized page titles for more terms.
It is important to take into account that Google takes pixels as a unit of measurement for its search results, not characters. Therefore, characters limits can only be an approximation depending on what we include on the title tag.
Titles on mobiles. These changes on Google SERPs not only apply to the desktop version. The tags for titles on mobile phones have also experienced changes, which had an even greater impact, as when thinking about tags for mobile phones we have to take into account the optimization and adaptation for both desktop and mobile versions.
Metadescriptions have increased from two to three lines, with more than 100 characters per line. With these changes, not only the title tags have been affected, but the meta descriptions now take up more space, in some cases showing three lines instead to the traditional two. The featured snippets have also increased in size. This huge change is a great advantage for SEO, which could extend the descriptions notably, including a greater amount of words and achieving an optimization for more search terms.
How could these changes by Google affect SEO-wise?
Although there is still no confirmation on whether these modifications are just a trial or it is an actual change on the Google search result page, it is obvious that they are very important changes that could affect the organic results significantly.
Positive impact on CTR. In particular, the first effect of this change would be a positive impact on the organic ranking and potential improvements on the CTR of the webpages. By showing more complete descriptions and titles which are either descriptive or optimized, this new configuration will open new ways to optimize SEO on these elements.
However, we have to take into account that, just as with any SEO change, we will have to check the CTR of the old results and compare them to the new. There are multiple external factors that also have an influence on CTR.
More possibilities to optimize longtail keywords. The longer tags and title descriptions would give us a better margin to use longtail keywords, a very valuable opportunity for better organic results, using at the same time a more natural language both on page titles and on meta descriptions.
These new changes on the appearance of Google’s search results page represent interesting challenges for SEO, that have to be up to date with every change or modification made on the search engine to detect trends and find new opportunities for SEO optimization.