Snippets have been shortened in Google search after a brief experiment with increasing the length at the end of 2017. Googles confirmed the changes that saw many marketers and webmasters depend on time increasing the search results snippets for no apparent reason. The extended length of snippets lasted just five months.
Danny Sullivan discussed the snippet changes, stating that the search snippets are now shorter than they were in December but also that they are slightly longer than they were before the change. Sullivan confirmed that snippets have no fixed length and the chosen length is determined by what the system considered to be useful. There will be no stated maximum length of snippets released by Google, this is down to the dynamic generation of the snippets.
Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks, though slightly longer than before a change we made last December. There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) May 14, 2018
According to research, the new average length of the snippets that are shown in search on desktop now stand at around 160 characters. This is a reduction of approximately 140 characters in December. The mobile characters are slightly less, with 130 characters being shown on average.
Don’t go rushing off to shorten those meta descriptions just yet. Remember that Google snippets are dynamic, and they are not always taken from the meta descriptions anyway. This is because most snippets are now pulled from the content on your website pages.