Custom Snippets and Titles in SERP’s

A while back, you may have noticed that meta descriptions shown in the SERP’s changed a bit – compared to what is actually written in the meta tag. Google began to allow advertisers to go beyond the standard character limits and would then customize the meta description result to best match the users query.

Matt Cutts has been talking about these types of adjustments to snippets and titles since 2009 however, this is the first time I’ve witnessed the customization of a title tag specifically. I noticed this change while looking at rankings for one of my clients – they were ranking on the first page for a keyword but the title tag was only 3 words long. I immediately thought to myself “well there’s no way I would have left the homepage title tag at 3 words long”… so I investigated. What I found, was that Google had actually taken the tail end of my title tag (which was over the character limit) to better match the users search.

Here is what I saw in the search results page when I searched for “mobile hair salon Vancouver”:

SERP Snippet

This is how the title tag – for that exact page – is written:

Snippets and Titles Explanation by Matt Cutts:

So, Google is altering snippets and titles to best match users search queries. While creating custom snippets and titles definitely helps the user find relevant pages, do you find – as an SEO expert, that this negatively or positively affects your optimization efforts? Do you have any examples of this occurring with your website or with one of your clients? 

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