With search engines, notably Google, continually tweaking their algorithms, SEO consultants have a responsibility to their clients to stay current on the latest news and trends revolving around search engine optimization and Internet marketing. While some algorithm changes may be minor and have little impact on your website’s ranking potential, other changes are significant enough to warrant an update to your optimization strategies.
A prime example comes from earlier this year when Google implemented a facelift to its SERP (search engine results page) format. While the increased font size and the removal of the underline to website title links may not seem significant, SEO consultants must explore such seemingly minor cosmetic changes to see if any optimization ramifications exist.
SEO Requires Proactive Strategy
With increased concern for mobile device viewing, in addition to the amount of detail Google devotes to the efficient use of space (i.e. the “above the fold” effect — what you see on a fresh SERP before moving the screen), I suspected Google wasn’t increasing font sizes without decreasing something else. I tested various keywords and phrases, knowing that the top results would likely include sites that had been well optimized. Despite the anticipation, I couldn’t help feel surprised at what I saw – an uptick in the amount of search results in which website title and description text was cut-off.
Prior to Google’s SERP format change, meta title tags recognized up to approximately 70 characters (including spaces) while meta descriptions recognized up to 150 characters (with spaces). Such a simple cosmetic change to the SERP meant that professional SEO consultants would now have to adhere to new character limits. At present, the industry now adheres to approximately 55 characters (including spaces) for meta titles and 115 characters (including spaces) for meta descriptions, while also allowing for some “give and take.” For example, excessive use of wider letters and all capitals increases overall width, thus taking up more space. What also must be considered is the bolding of any keywords in titles and descriptions. Bolded words in a title or description increases width space. Not all 55 character title widths or 115 character descriptions will measure the same.
Not long after Google’s SERP format change, I was asked if exceeding Google’s character limits for meta tags would compromise a website’s ranking. In my opinion, probably not. For title tags, Google still reads and considers all text for ranking purposes, even if it does exceed character limits. It is important to clarify that meta description content does not have any SEO weight. It is simply there to entice clicks. Avoiding meta title and description text from cutting off is purely cosmetic, since cut-off text not only looks poor, but can also potentially discourage clicks.
When Google implements changes involving Google+ or how it renders the use of maps on the SERP, it is important that whoever is managing your organization’s website understands the potential SEO ramifications. Staying current with SEO news and trends while practicing the correct theory is crucial. Proactive search engine optimization consultants and webmasters are constantly asking “how high?” each time Google yells “jump.” At SEO Fuel Marketing, we are always happy to jump for our clients.