SEOClerks

Google just changed the meta description length...AGAIN



Enter a reason for deleting this comment

Google just changed the meta description length...AGAIN

About six months ago Google increased the meta description length to most websites. From an average of 130-150 to an average of 280 with some meta description even going past 300 characters. 

At first, I thought to myself this is just a test, Google always did stuff like this in the past, and this was like the second time of increased meta description length. So I decided to wait and keep my short meta descriptions. 

However, most tools out there like YOAST, screaming frog, and SEOquake started to implement updated to reflect the new norm: optimal meta description was now between 220 and 280 characters, it was accepted that you could quickly go beyond 300 if your content were relevant enough. 
A few days ago, Google reverted back to the 130-155 average length meta description!

For an SEO like me, this is a huge a very brutal shift. I mean, only a few weeks ago I completed my transition to new, bigger meta descriptions to my newest client. Now I'm supposed to go back and convince the client we need to go back to a maximum of 155 characters and waist at least a day implementing this change?

And I'm not the only one; you can find lots and lots of SEOs complaining on Twitter about this change. Some updated the meta descriptions to more than 100k pages and they need to work a lot to change everything back the way it was, especially if they didn't keep the old metas or if they need to adopt the new shorter metas. 

If you didn't update to bigger meta descriptions than you probably took the best decision. 
I still believe you should change and test new metas every once in a while to increase your organic CTR, but overall the SEOs that haven't updated to the last paradigm made the right decision. 

What happens now if you did indeed update bigger meta descriptions, just like I did?
Well, first of all, don't rush into making changes. I waited like three months before I started making any updates, I also waited for all the big tools to update their algorithm, it felt more "official" once all big SEO checkers and tools move to the new norm. 
But I was wrong; the tools were wrong. Google just decided for some reason that 220+ meta descriptions aren't really an improvement. 
 
And if I remember this correctly, Google even urge not to make the change in the first place. So yes. The fault is our own. It's in our nature as SEOs to try stuff and make the best of the things we know about Google and the other search engines. 

So what happens now? Well. I'm not doing anything for the time being. We all know that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor and Google claims it doesn't really matter what keywords you are using in your meta descriptions. Also, most metas for most queries are generated by Google from the content you have on your page, so it doesn't really matter what you put into your meta descriptions, for most searches Google will just pick whatever Google thinks is relevant. 

I was also clever enough to implement the main keywords first, like in the first 130 characters. Organic CTR has indeed dropped since this change was implemented but I need to analyze a lot more data to figure out if the long meta descriptions are to blame for the drop in organic CTR. 

I will probably go back to an average of 155 characters in the next six months for all my clients. If Google doesn't make any more changes until then and only if I think certain pages can do a lot better with shorter meta descriptions. 

So what do you guys think? Have you made the change to bigger meta descriptions six months ago?
How are you dealing with this new update and will you change back to shorter metas? 

Let me know what you think in the comments below. I'm really interested to know what happened with your analytic data after this change was implemented. 
I'm keeping my eyes on everything the SEO community has to say about this change. 

Comments

Please login or sign up to leave a comment

Join
vinaya

I use YOAST on my wordpress blogs and websites. I always write 3 lines meta descriptions and YOAST sent green signal. However, in the recent time, despite writing 3 lines meta descriptions, my posts were not getting green signals. I did not realize this that the reason for this was the increased meta description by Google. Google has increased meta description, will the entire meta description show up during Google search?




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

amelia88

I often get frustrated when sites "move the goal posts" if you will - it's hard when you try and optimize something to meet certain criteria and then they go and change those criteria on you in the blink of an eye. Glad you offered some advice for this kind of situation - sometimes it just helps knowing what other people are doing who are in the same boat.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

Corzhens

You are right with the changed goals especially if you are not fully aware. It’s good that we have information sharing in this site. To be honest, this is the only site that I go for the technical information not only for SEO but also for updates in policy of social media and search engines not to mention about new sites that are related to the traffic like the bookmarking sites and others of its kind.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

cmoneyspinner

Are you serious? This is hilarious to me. First of all, it was a real challenge for me to even write a really good meta description. But then I had heard that Google increased the length. When Twitter changed from 140 characters to 280 characters, I jumped on it! However, when Google announced that the length of the meta description, I'm like: “I ain't changing nothing!” What? Why? They didn't say that I had to do it! So I left well enough alone and instead went about composing my extra large tweets. Google just changed the meta description length...AGAIN Google just changed the meta description length...AGAIN




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

Topseoservice

This is very annoying from the SEO point of view. Although I not too much bother about the meta description length these days. I only concentrate on writing meta description that can improve my CTR. This working nice for some years for my and my client's website. I have also noticed, it has also increased my ranking on Bing.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

Martinsx1

Some people describe Google as being a very huge headache most times with the way they do things. This would be very frustrating and disappointing to anyone who is into SEO, after having gone through the stress of updating and they would revert back to the old spec. What could actually be the reason for such unwarranted change?




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

ballyhara

Most of the time, these platforms change their scheme, because they're not achieving a goal. However, that makes me feel like in the middle of an experiment, and it's frustrating. As a user, you're supposed to be under certain rules, then you do all your effort to do things in the right way, then they come change the whole thing, and later on do it again... and I'm confused. Not very happy with this changes from one day to another.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

amelia88

However, that makes me feel like in the middle of an experiment, and it's frustrating.

I think you summed it up perfectly. I don't like when they just change things with no notification or anything, because you just end up feeling like a player in a game that you've got no input in.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

centurion

May be that was for a check. But by the rules of search engine optimization and search engine result page based option- Google and all maximum search engine will show a result on a specific criteria based. Like a website title+a website address+ 150 characters and some specific keywords or pictures. Now google have on that result search option page based method.

Thanks
Centurion




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

kgord

Well I hate when companies change things in general. I mean when you having a working formula which seems to work for most if not everyone, why would you change it? It just doesn't seem prudent or a good thing to do. I would be curious as to what Google's motives were behind this change..and what they were hoping to get out of it.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

amelia88

This is also something I struggle with understanding. It seems like a lot of companies go for the "continual change" route, so that even when things seem to be working perfectly fine, they'll add some new "improvements" (I say that lightly because the changes don't always improve things).

I too wish that I had more information about exactly where Google want to go with this, and how it's going to benefit us as users.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

kgord

You see that everywhere in online businesses and brick and mortar ones. I mean it is a turn off to get used to changes that might make perfect sense to the business, but not to the customers.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

Kakashi2020

This really sucks more so with SEO people and thats the problem with Google because sometimes i think that people there like tripping. What could be the sense of changing the meta description lenght and then reverting it back?




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

overcast

It is my speculation that you can see the google is working on various screen size type for search result experiment. And they are experimenting with the lengt of the meta description. So that being said, you can see that some of the time it may not be that easier for the meta description to work with as well. So we have to see what may or may be accepted. And we have to keep things short. So that way any change google makes should not affect much to us.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

Corzhens

That is one problem with being too technical with SEO. When the requirement is changed, no matter how small, efforts seem to be wasted. I understand that meta tags are important for a website regarding the ranking in search engines. Pardon me for diverting the issue because my take on this is if you are focused on the contents then there will be no problem with your objective because no matter what changes that Google makes in meta description then it will not be of your concern.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?

stbrians

It is experimental-I mean SEO and meta description. Maybe somebody told Google to increase the characters and when they did, he changed his mind.

Sorry you were inconvinienced.




Are you sure you want to delete this post?