At the end of 2017, Google introduced its enhanced support for longer meta descriptions. The change allows websites to set a meta description (also known as a “rich-snippet”) up to a maximum length of around 320 characters, doubling the previous limit from around 160 characters. This has significant importance for websites.
Correctly setting your meta description can greatly increase your chance of featuring in Google’s results when people search on the search-engine giant. However, this recent change has other far reaching effects when people perform a search on Google and SEO related results.
The increased rich-snippet functionality also means that when Google indexes your website, including your blog posts, it can store more text in its database. If you have written content which contains keywords from the search, the returned result will show more of the text you’ve written.
Essentially, this means that now we don’t have to try to compact the SEO description of the website, web page or blog post into just a measly 160 characters. I know for a fact that I’ve always struggled to try to get across the purpose of the page into the old 160 character limit, so the new 320 character limit comes as a welcome change on the part of Google. It is only a matter of time before the other major search engine, Bing, will follow suit, who at the time of writing limit meta descriptions to a mere 150 characters.
If you currently have a website, you should revisit your meta descriptions and SEO strategy to expand its text from the previous 160 character limit to the new 320 character limit, ensuring that you populate it with relevant SEO keywords which relate to the page or the information contained on the page.
One important thing to remember is that if you use an online SEO tool, some may report that your meta description is too long, exceeding the old 160 character limit. It may be a while before all online SEO tools catch up to this change, so bear this in mind if you’re using such tools, and any negative impact scores they report.