Important Update to Meta Description Recommendations

Last Update: January 13, 2018

Today when I was writing a post on my website, I noticed something new:

The recommended lenght of meta descriptions has changed!

This goes both for All-in-one SEO plugin and Yoast. They now allow up to 320 characters in the meta description.

I deciced to do a little bit of reseacrh about it, and it seems that Google have recently made search snippets in the SERPs much longer, and therefore the recommended lenght has now also changed.

How that will affect the SERPs nobody knows yet. And if it is then a good idea to start making our meta descriptions longer is still also unknown.

I think that we should NOT run off and start changing all our descriptions before there is more data and knowledge about it. I know yoast is also doing some tests now, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

You can read a little more on this post by yoast:

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any experiences with this please feel free to share below.

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Loes Premium
I heard about that, and I am waiting for experts to say, whether I should add extra descriptions or not.
MikaelM Premium Plus
Yes, I am also waiting a bit too see more data, but will also test a bit myself.

In the article I posted a link to from yoast they also say they will do some testing. But for now both the yoast and all-in-one plugin are changed and recommend longer descriptions. But we will see waht will end up being the best approach:-)
Chezbrown Premium
Thanks very much for this information. That is so good to know and hopefully it stays that way. xxxx
MikaelM Premium Plus
You are welcome Cheryl
Chezbrown Premium
No problem, thank you. xxxx
DerekMarshal Premium
I am of the belief and as many other that it is better NOT to have forced meta description than to have a forced one. By not having a meta description you are giving google the freedom to pull a meta description from your content and it bolds the search terms in the SERPS.

Good practice though is to have your target keyword phrase in the first 160 or so characters, so that if or when your keyword is entered into the search bar it too gets highlighted in bold.

@@Rich explains it better, a tip I picked up from him. I split teted it and yes, you do get a higher CTR WITHOUT a forced meta description. Go figure!

(also when it updates from 160 to 320 or 320 to 480 or whatever you don't need to do anything..)
MikaelM Premium Plus
Yes if there is now room for that many more characters, it seems like it will not be so necessary to write them so precisely. But still looking forward to seeing some more data and how it will affect the SERPs.

Interesting to hear about your split test. I often see that google is using a different snippet than the one in the description if it fits better, but still see the benefits of adjusting it for many pages.
We will see how it will be in the future though when we know more about this change:-)
MKearns Premium
Looks like how much faster and further can Google crawl with searching now?
MikaelM Premium Plus
Good question. Will be interesting to see how it will affect the SERPs
bpais1 Premium
Actually, Mikael, when I noticed that I had more characters to use in my meta description, I really didn't want to use very many of the extra characters allowed.

I've kind of gotten used to the past trim meta description requirements and it has forced me to concentrate on more eye catching text with pointed "low hanging fruit" keywords.

I think using more than a short "sensational" sentence or two runs the risk of me starting to blather on and on in the meta description.

And, I want the person searching to just get their interest piqued by my short blurbs...enough to click and go to my webpage for further reading.

If I put too much info into a meta description, they may stop right there and not go any further.

MikaelM Premium Plus
I agree Jim. It is actually nice being forced to be short and precise and make it cathy without too many words.

Also, if it is too long people will not read all of it anyways.

But will be interesting to see what the data will show once it has been available for a bit longer.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

All the best,
JamesJB Premium
You have a point there, Jim. Too much can thin things out somewhat.