SEO Update - Google Announces Expanded Length for Meta Descriptions and Why It Matters for Your Website
Late in 2017, Google announced that they were increasing the length of meta descriptions. And its a good news for SEO, for those who take advantage of it.
Marketers who leave their meta descriptions unchanged should see improved web presence on the SERP. Snippet size was also increased.
What is a Meta Description? And why it matters in SEO
A meta description tag appears in <head> section of HTML on your web page. Simply put it provides more information to both Google and to the user, as to what your page is about. While Google does not necessarily use meta descriptions to rank your website, it does still parse it. Google also does not always show the meta description in the snippet, but it will sometimes show content that is relevant to the users query. That way, what the user actually sees is relevant to their keywords in the search.
So what is the new length?
Meta descriptions have normally been up to 160 characters. With the recent change Google is allowing up to 320 characters. Google recently released the following statement:
"We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average."
So practically should go through and updated every single meta description? Not so fast. Google says that you don't need to do that, but we actually disagree and see that as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. We will address this in a later post or read more about Moz recommendations for 2018.
If you choose to not lengthen your meta descriptions, we do recommend as you are blogging and build content that you take advantage of writing up to 320 characters to provide Google and the user more information in the search results.
For Content Marketing and digital marketing purposes thats good news because there is a lot more you can do in those meta descriptions. However, like always don't view the additional space as opportunity to stuff keywords. Focus on good content that matters to your users and to your target keywords.
Got more questions about what this change means for your website? We can help.
Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC.
Sam Casey is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.