How to Utilise Google’s Increased Meta Descriptions

In a long-predicted (but quietly announced) move, Google updated its meta description snippet-length at the end of last year. So, what does this mean for you?

In December last year, Google increased the word-count of displayed meta description text in their SERP (search engine results page). The 155 character limit grew to almost 320 characters on average – giving website owners plenty of additional text to play with. This increased limit brings the display of text up to 4-6 lines in search engine results, giving each website a chance to really capture their audiences’ interest in their description.

The new changes mean now is a great time to revisit your existing meta descriptions and update them. With 320 characters available, it’s recommended that your description should be no shorter than 100 characters – with over 280 being the optimal amount.

Don’t forget that on mobile devices the meta-description length can still cut off at a much shorter length, so if you are rewriting your meta descriptions still follow the ‘best practice’ of including your most vital information at the start of your description.

What Are The Benefits Of Increased Meta Description Length?

Having extra text available offers several advantages, many of which simply expand on the already-established benefits of existing meta descriptions. These include:

Google Real Estate: meta-descriptions increase the size of your page entry, taking up more visible space on the search engine results page. This pushes competitors down lower on the page which means, dependant on your audiences browser size or device, that your competitors will appear further down (and may even be completely pushed off the screen)!

Emotive: an increased text-limit makes it easier to use your description to encourage your audience to click-through to your website. Whereas before the restrictive character count may have meant emotive language was sacrificed in favour of shorter facts, with nearly double the amount of text available meta-description writers can afford to use more emotive language and phrases to capture their audiences’ attention.

Lowered bounce rate: a consequential effect of increased description length is that you can provide a longer and clearer explanation of your service offering. This can have a positive effect of decreasing your landing page bounce rate – as one of the biggest factors of bounce rate is relevancy, which is essentially whether the contents of your landing page was what the user expected to find when they clicked on the page. With the opportunity to provide a longer and more clarified description, it’s more likely that potential audiences will have a greater knowledge of whether the page contents they’re clicking through to are relevant to them or not.

Call-to-action: aswell as using more emotive language, the increased character limit also gives you some spare text to ensure that every meta-descriptions ends with a call-to-action. This can be anything which encourage the user to click-through, such as ‘see more here’, ‘shop now!’ or ‘book online today’.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?

Meta descriptions are important to provide an extra level of detail to encourage search engine users to click through to your website. The main focus of the text should always be on driving click-throughs – think of the text as the window of your shop front, with the goal being to make customers step indoors. Aim to write your meta-descriptions as compelling adverts and include your keywords where possible (if a user has searched for these keywords they will be highlighted, which attracts your audiences’ eye).

To find out more about meta descriptions and optimising your website for search engines, get in touch today.