2017 is almost over, but that hasn’t stopped Google from slipping in a few last-minute changes. This time they’re tinkering with how much meta information they show in search results.
What is a META description?
Meta descriptions are basically information about your page. It’s a small summary of what a web user should find on a page when they see it in a Google search result. Up until recently, you had about 160 characters to give people (and Google) relevant information about that specific page on your website and what they could expect to find there. If you’re a ClearPG client, meta descriptions are something we write when we launch your site and then edit over time as SEO results demand.
The meta description is a ~160 character snippet that summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show the meta description in results mostly when the searched for phrase is contained in the description. Optimizing meta descriptions are an important aspect of on-page SEO .
Source – Yoast Meta Descriptions
That look like this:
Google is now pulling some meta descriptions that are closer to 300 characters rather than the 160 we had before. This, theoretically, gives websites the ability to write descriptions that are almost double the size and length.
Is this good or bad?
We think this is a good thing because… ultimately, longer meta descriptions seem to be a good thing as it gives us more opportunity to provide Google users with robust, relevant information. Additionally, longer meta descriptions can give complicated clients more room to explain exactly what and who they are – and there’s no doubt Google will take that into account when ranking a page for a specific search term.
The possible bad news is that… with longer meta descriptions, some industries (tech, information, medical advice) could see a reduced click-through rate. What that means is that the Google user found the information they wanted in the actual meta description without having to click on the search result, thus lowering the chance that there will be any brand association with the information they find.
Like everything else Google does, the full effect of this change will only be seen over time, but we have strong reason to suspect this won’t drastically effect most service industry based clients we work with.
What else should you know?
- The ClearPG team has seen these changes in the wild.
- However, Google has stated that this will mostly roll out in 2018.
- Sites with short descriptions likely won’t be punished, but it’s hard to say what benefit longer metas will garner.
“Sky Is Falling” Index: 0
The sky is not falling. Your SEO results aren’t going to tank. Your competitor isn’t going to steal your clients, patients, or sales just because of this. This is as mild as it gets for changes from Google. Like with everything Google-related, they try their best to actually tell us what is going on. There’s way less mystery to this stuff than most marketing firms would like to admit.
However, we do suspect you’ll start getting annoying emails from old web hosts and developers telling you the sky is falling.