When is the last time you wrote a Meta description and did not struggle with the word limit? We have to edit it at least twice to squeeze in all important keywords and facts into what we all think was a very miserly allocation for character count. You read that right, ‘was’. The new Google algorithm update finally did something about the low character count allotted for Meta descriptions or snippets. This update has helped various bloggers to include Meta description length as a part of their latest SEO strategies.
Yes, the change happened in November last year. If you had not noticed it yet, you should be surprised. Don’t worry, you are not the only one who did not observe this change. It just means you are good at your job.
The New Limit
We all know the old recommended limit for Meta description was within 165 characters. So, what is the new limit? Is it a considerable change at all? It is indeed because apparently, there is no limit at all anymore.
Google does not suggest a recommended length of Meta description anymore, at least not officially. But entrepreneur and technologist Danny Sullivan personally said it is not wise to go over 320 because that is the official number Google will display. But even after the new update, most Meta descriptions are less than 300 characters. So, that is a fair limit.
51% search results have had the Meta descriptions updated. It is just a matter of few months before we all forget the days of mere 2 line Meta description. The new Meta descriptions go on for at least 4 lines, sometimes 6! That is enough for. In fact, quite a few Meta descriptions are still within 280 characters and that is enough for those.
New Google Guidelines
After Google algorithm update, it is not only the length of snippets or Meta descriptions that has increased.
Earlier Google strongly recommended keeping the entire description within 180 characters. Even that went into the annoying ellipses. Now, as we said, there is no limit apparently. Of course, only 320 characters will be displayed. But it is up to the owner of the content how long they actually want to make it.
Given below are some of the pointers which will show the effects of this update.
- Effect on Search
Earlier when we wanted to just find out what this page is about, we would try to make it out from the Meta description but the explanation would very soon lead to ellipses that made us click the link. Now, people can find out the basic information about almost anything, just from the search page itself. Around 300 characters are enough to be able to squeeze in a complete sense in most cases.
However, many sites have not updated their Meta descriptions yet. Their Meta description length remains the same so it will take some time for this new update to take effect on a more wholesome basis.
- The SEO Opportunity
It is recommended to get all your search results updated according to the new guidelines. Else you are just missing out on the opportunity that more than half the internet has already acted upon. Stay ahead of your competitors. Incorporate more information, right keywords, whatever it takes to help your search result ranking.
- The Marketing Dilemma
The idea is to use the extra space to give more attractive information to ensure a click. At the same time, if you put anything attractive, which is not a click bait, then that is ethically acceptable, but you will be putting out information that will take away the necessity to click. So, is it helpful or not? That is the question.
Now here’s the thing. Google is likely to encourage proper, ethical use of the new Google algorithm update. So, when you add something helpful on the new space or answer some questions, Google is likely to rank you higher. You might be sacrificing many clicks that could eventually get you higher up there, but this is the quicker way. Therefore, it is recommended to put some helpful information, be as candid as possible, use the given space to clear some doubts.
- Provide much Information
Another reason why putting relevant information in the Meta description is a good thing is people might respond better.
Do not waste the space by filling it up with vague content hoping people will click the link because they didn’t get much from the Meta description. Put in something helpful, something informative, don’t hold back. Use the new Meta title character limit to target the people who came here for research. Use the space to make them believe you have more to offer than the next link.
- Anticipated Click through Rate Effects
With unfavourable click-through rates, your content will keep falling down the search result charts. If it is just a piece of information that is directly related to the search result, give the answer there. But use the Google algorithm update to throw in something extra to lure in a click. If it is something already complex, get to the point in the Meta description, start off the explanation or a gist so that people understand that this search result is likely to give the answer without beating around the bush.
Task at Hand for SEO
The SEO companies should cater to these changes in their current projects.
- Take care of the landing page first.
- Change the Meta descriptions to make the most out of the new update.
- The second group of important pages should be the ones with the highest traffic after the landing pages.
- Update the Meta description length Put in the effort to change the whole Meta description to make into 300 or 320 characters.
- Put more focus on getting some useful information up there instead of on covering all 320 characters.
- Update the CMS for the Meta tag character limit. Make it anything lower than 320. Make full use of the space.
- Finally, you need to check if the content you put up with the new length of Meta description is working for you or not. Check if there is an increase in website traffic. Give it some time. It should not go down if not go up.
So, this is how the Google algorithm update affects SEO and the general search tendencies. It is mostly a good thing, with no known side effects yet. So, make the most out of it. Optimize your Meta descriptions or snippets to help people find answers, and to get more clicks. It is high time already but better late than never.