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Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters



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Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters

Big update coming from Google this week! Remeber how for years now the absolute limit of meta description was 160 characters with a few occasional test where Google allowed bigger snippets but quickly reverted back to normal? Not anymore!

In fact, 160 characters weren't really ideal since Google rarely fitted all 160 characters into a search result meta description.
I personally always kept my meta descriptions not bigger than 155 characters, and I put my best into optimizing them with the right keywords and the right call to actions.

Google now claims that the maximum number of characters a meta description can have is 320.
At first, I thought to myself this is an excellent move and update, nothing this big happened in the SEO world in a long time. Yoast had to update their SEO plugin to fit the new number of characters regarding meta descriptions and every guru and SEO blog went crazy explaining this update.

So what are the benefits of having a bigger meta description?

Well, you can fit more content, more keywords and in general, you have a lot more text to work with. This will increase your chances of convincing users your result should be the one they need to click on

Apart from the obvious benefits, I discovered a few cons while testing and researching results with bigger meta description snippets.

The first thing I noticed was that Google completely ignored your custom meta description when showing the extended versions in search results. Where once 155 characters of custom, properly optimized descriptions where shown, now I got 320 characters of poorly selected text from the content itself. In other words, Google decided to ignore my meta description entirely and in turn, just changed it with some random text from found on the page;

This leaves me with the following questions:

1. This makes me wonder: if Google implements whatever meta description it wants, why should we waste time on creating custom meta descriptions anymore?

2. Is there a new optimal number of characters for meta descriptions? Like 240 or something? Because I bet, Google will rarely fit all 320 characters for EVERY result out there. Short meta descriptions will probably be around for years to come.

3. When and how exactly will Google respect the meta descriptions we set over whatever random text the algorithm finds on the page? I know Google used this tactic in the past, where it will pick some text from the content as a meta description if your custom meta description was weak or not related to the subject at hand, I have clients that virtually lost all custom meta descriptions when searching for various queries that once shown custom meta description ONLY.

4. Should we all start writing big meta descriptions now? Of course, bigger snippets may attract more organic clicks, but that doesn't change the fact that smaller, classic meta description may do a better job in the end.

5. How long will this last? It would be a real pain to start writing 320 characters meta descriptions for the next few months, only to find out that Google is reverting back to the 160 characters standard. To be fair Google did increase the title tag length a few years ago, and longer title tag results are still around, although not as common as I'm seeing long meta descriptions now.

What do you think about this new change and update coming from Google? I think that time will tell and we all need to implement more tests to answer all these questions. If any of you have more answers or information, please share them in the comments down below!

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TommyCarey

I've already been going through my websites and editing the descriptions Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters The only downside about this is that I have around 20 websites, and they all have a decent amount of content on them lol. So, this is going to take a while to finish all the pages, but it should be worth it in the long run Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters

For anyone else in the same boat as me, I would highly suggest prioritizing your websites in order to edit the ones making money first, and then moving on to the websites that have potential, then the websites that were launched recently and aren't gaining much ground but will likely in the future Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters I had to do this in order to tweak my first few, main websites, before I move on to my other websites that aren't generating any money just yet.

Think about it, you would want your main websites to be indexed with the bigger descriptions before the other websites, so why wouldn't you work on them first Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters

I personally love the new update but I keep thinking that Google was taking notes from Twitter, while watching them after they increased their character limit, and seeing how people reacted to everything. I guess Google thought Twitter did a good thing and is now jumping on the band wagon of increased description lengths lol Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters



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Cristian

It will be a pain to explain to all my clients to update all meta descriptions and the fact that I will need a lot of man hours to update everything. Some will understand and some won't, the only issues is the fact that I don't know yet how much of an impact updating bigger meta descriptions will have in my overall rankings and organic CTR.

As I said I've seen 155 characters meta description being increased by default, by Google, to 300+ characters with snippets from the content itself. So clearly Google doesn't care you have short metas, it will import whatever content "seems" important.



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Everett

My content is still being truncated at 31-32 words and the average snippet description is around 180 characters, not 320. I wonder if they are going to allow certain websites the full 320 characters or truncate those that don't have quality content? Google is very weird with the descriptions, because I will also agree that they are taking random text from the page that is not important to the overall page itself and just slapping it on the search result. For instance, some of the results show the footer text, along with the copyright and that is in no way shape or form important to the overall page it self. The SEO on the site is good, and everything is polished so the site should have a certain description but of course google is picking and choosing what to display. Hope they fix this because as of right now some of my results are not looking too good.. lol



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keen2write

Yes, I noticed as well when I updated the Yoast plugin for WordPress that it is allowing me to add much more to the description. I also have a lot of websites, but editing them I hope that won't disturb the rankings.



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Everett

But im still getting 180 characters Google updates meta description snippets to fit 320 characters Lol



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cmoneyspinner

I try to keep up. When Twitter increased their 140-characters to 280, I was ready to embrace the change. But this post is 3 months old and this is my first time hearing of the change for the meta description from 160 to 320 characters. Good to know!



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Corzhens

From 160 characters to 320 characters means the limit was doubled which will give the users more room for adding words. Do you think this expansion has a relation to the move of Twitter to increase the length of the tweet? Maybe they have been studying that limitation that somehow it is better to grow than to be stagnant with that small size of the meta description. The question is this – is it advisable to edit the meta description of the old web pages?



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