With the ever-changing search industry, we continue to expect tweaks from Google. A few months ago, Google announced the removal of right sidebar ads. With this, there was speculation about what would happen to the extra real estate this would free up. We are now seeing some of those possible changes in the search engine results pages (SERPs) in Google Chrome.
Starting this week, we noticed the SERP listings expand to 600 pixels from the previous 500 pixels in Chrome. Google has not released a statement about this change, so we can’t be sure if this is a test or a permanent roll-out.
A direct effect this could have on SEO efforts is the character limit for title tags. For years it has been Google’s standard practice to cut off title tags longer than 55-60 characters. We are seeing title tags up to 70 characters in this possible expansion. It could also mean meta descriptions would have expanded space for over 200 characters compared to the current standard of 155-160. However, meta descriptions are still displaying with the current cut-off, even with the expanded width in Chrome.
If these changes stay permanent, this would be an opportunity to provide more information to the user via the SERPs. Extended title tags could allow for an extra word or two and an extra line in the meta description will provide more space for each listing to entice the user to click through.
It is uncertain whether this expansion is a permanent change, but we are keeping tabs on the tests and roll-outs affecting the SERPs.