How to Write Meta Descriptions in a Constantly Changing World (AKA Google Giveth, Google Taketh Away)

Summary: As of mid-May 2018, Google has reverted back to shorter display snippets. Our data suggests these changes are widespread and that most meta descriptions are being cut off in the previous range of about 155–160 characters. Back in December, Google made a significant shift in how they displayed search snippets, with our research showing many snippets over 300 characters. Over the weekend, they seem to have rolled back that change (Danny Sullivan partially confirmed this on Twitter on May 14). Besides the obvious question — What are the new limits? — it may leave you wondering how to cope when the rules keep changing. None of us have a crystal ball, but I’m going to attempt to answer both questions based on what we know today. Lies, dirty lies, and statistics… I pulled all available search snippets from the MozCast 10K (page-1 Google results for 10,000 keywords), since […]

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Content for Answers: The Inverted Pyramid – Whiteboard Friday

If you’ve been searching for a quick hack to write content for featured snippets, this isn’t the article for you. But if you’re looking for lasting results and a smart tactic to increase your chances of winning a snippet, you’re definitely in the right place. Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid method of writing can help you craft intentional, compelling, rich content that will help you rank for multiple queries and win more than one snippet at a time. Learn how in this Whiteboard Friday starring the one and only Dr. Pete! Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Hey, Moz fans, Dr. Pete here. I’m the Marketing Scientist at Moz and visiting you from not-so-sunny Chicago in the Seattle office. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple years in my blog posts and such […]

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Zero-Result SERPs: Welcome to the Future We Should’ve Known Was Coming

On Wednesday, Google launched a large-scale experiment, removing organic results from a small set of searches with definitive answers such as this one for “What time is it in Seattle?”: These SERPs display a Knowledge Card with a “Show all results” button and no additional organic results or SERP features. Danny Sullivan wrote on Twitter that this is currently limited to a small set of answers, including calculators, unit conversions, and some time/date queries. Here’s another one, converting yesterday’s MozCast temperature (“108 degrees in celsius”): At first glance, this is a startling development, but it shouldn’t be entirely surprising. So, let’s get to the hard questions — is this a sign of things to come, and how quickly do we need to adapt? For today, don’t panic First off, preliminary data suggests that these really are isolated cases. Across the 10,000 searches that MozCast tracks daily, one search (0.01%) currently […]

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Google’s Walled Garden: Are We Being Pushed Out of Our Own Digital Backyards?

Posted by Dr-Pete Early search engines were built on an unspoken transaction — a pact between search engines and website owners — you give us your data, and we’ll send you traffic. While Google changed the game of how search engines rank content, they honored the same pact in the beginning. Publishers, who owned their own content and traditionally were fueled by subscription revenue, operated differently. Over time, they built walls around their gardens to keep visitors in and, hopefully, keep them paying. Over the past six years, Google has crossed this divide, building walls around their content and no longer linking out to the sources that content was originally built on. Is this the inevitable evolution of search, or has Google forgotten their pact with the people’s whose backyards their garden was built on? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question, but the evolution itself is […]

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New Research: 35% of Competitive Local Keywords Have Local Pack Ads

Over the past year, you may have spotted a new kind of Google ad on a local search. It looks something like this one (on a search for “oil change” from my Pixel phone in the Chicago suburbs): These ads seem to appear primarily on mobile results, with some limited testing on desktop results. We’ve heard rumors about local pack ads as far back as 2016, but very few details. How prevalent are these ads, and how seriously should you be taking them? 11,000 SERPs: Quick summary For this study, we decided to look at 110 keywords (in 11 categories) across 100 major US cities. We purposely focused on competitive keywords in large cities, assuming, based on our observations as searchers, that the prevalence rate for these ads was still pretty low. The 11 categories were as follows: Apparel Automotive Consumer Goods Finance Fitness Hospitality […]

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