Google Extends Meta Descriptions of Search Results

December 12, 2017

This December, Google decided to gift copywriters everywhere with longer meta description snippets, allowing for a maximum character length of 320 characters (including spaces).

This means that when forming a description line under the title and URL, you are able to include more information about the page and how to understand it. So, if you go and search for a company, product or service through Google, a longer description may appear on the initial search page, allowing users to gather a stronger preliminary idea of whether the webpage fits their search needs.

What does this mean for webmasters?

Upon announcing the change, Google also assured webmasters that they didn’t have to go and change their meta descriptions. Google’s Public Liaison for Search Danny Sullivan tweeted as the news broke, writing “don’t go expanding your meta description tags”. He further stated that longer snippets are “a more dynamic process” – in other words, Google should automatically make the metas longer based on the content of the page and the user’s query.

So, basically, Google will be able to pull longer meta descriptions when necessary – but that doesn’t mean you should go back and actively change every single description of every page in your site.

How does this help the searcher?

People want immediate answers. If they don’t have the time to read through all 300+ words of content on the page, they can gather the information needed to make an informed decision on whether you are actually the product/service they need by simply reading the extended meta.

However, it could have an adverse effect on the way people interact with webpages and potentially overwhelm them, which could increase AdWords clicks as a result. Of course, this will only be shown in due time.

Didn’t they introduce it ages ago?

No, but Google did start testing longer meta descriptions over the past decade at various times to try and find the optimal length for webpages.
Users have been used as a test group, and could’ve been seeing the longer snippets based on the individual query to see performance levels. Google is constantly working to advance the way that users search the platform, since this is the major function of it.

Wrapping it up…

Remember: although Google has introduced longer character descriptions, it is not necessary to increase your meta descriptions at this time. Google is yet to confirm the recommendations for writing meta descriptions from here, but when they do, you will hear it from Appscore.