December 2017 Google Update – Meta Description Limit Extended

The Google Claus came early! Instead of delivering a Jelly of the Month Club subscription or yet another breathtaking $50 AdWords coupon, they dropped some big news about meta descriptions. In this blog post, I’ll give you a quick 411 on what to know and how the change can affect your site.

What Is a Meta Description?

Meta descriptions are used to briefly describe the content of a web page. They are a core part of what we optimize a page for in SEO, and they are commonly displayed under your page headline in search engines. Here’s an example (meta description highlighted in red):

 

How Has It Changed?

Google has made a change to where they are extending the meta description character limit beyond the previous 165. An exact limit has yet to be released, but based on research conducted by Moz, 300 characters is being considered a safe limit.

With the change in place, Google is now both displaying more characters in the listings and reading more characters in the individual webpage code.

How Does This Impact Your Website?

You should prioritize changing the descriptions on some of your key pages. What we recommend is adding to these descriptions so you get the full benefit of the change. Here are a few things to add to your existing descriptions:

  1. Create More Compelling Copy
    Google is doing this to try and help searchers find the best content. If you can better summarize or describe the content on the page and how it can help people, the more clicks you’ll potentially receive.
  1. Include More Keywords
    Like Cousin Eddie at Christmas dinner, you’ll want to take advantage of the 47%-character increase by adding keywords that you are targeting on that specific page.

How Does This Affect People Searching on Google?

Google is displaying more of a description under the headline of a page. That’s an opportunity to:

  1. Improve the real estate that you own for your individual listing on Google
  2. Capture the reader’s attention with crafty copy that better describes the topic of the content on the page

What If I Haven’t Written Unique Meta Descriptions?

If you haven’t written keyword-rich meta descriptions before, then there’s plenty of opportunity to improve your online presence in Google. Take the time to write unique meta descriptions for the most important pages on your website. A few to tackle right off the bat:

  • Homepage
  • Product, service, or degree pages
  • About page

Where Can I Learn More?

Rand Fishkin of Moz best describes the news via his Whiteboard Friday segment.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Sixth City Marketing team.

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