Google confirmed late last quarter that it would increase the average character count of a description snippet seen below an organic search result. We and many others have started to see the activation of the announcement on a more consistent basis. The longer descriptions have the potential to seize a better portion of the valuable real estate within the search result. With the additional space, the description can further highlight the valued information and allow users to see more relevant terms related to their query. Google said this,
“We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.”
We recently went through the process and have started to see our website feature the expanded meta description in Google’s search results.
How To Get Longer Meta Descriptions to display within Google’s Search Results: (WordPress & Yoast SEO)
In our scenario, we have a WordPress website that utilizes the Yoast SEO plugin. The first step is to make sure the Yoast SEO plugin is up to date with the most recent version, currently version 6.3. As always, please be sure to backup your website before updating any plugin. Older versions of the plugin will display/optimize for the previous 165 character count. Don’t forget, you’ll have nearly twice as many characters so that means twice as much consideration when optimizing!
Once activated, the snippet preview/editor will extend the recommended length of the meta description as seen in the example below:
While we do recommend updating your website meta descriptions up to the allotted 320 characters, it’s not a make or break SEO strategy. The Google bot will still look to the most relevant content to show, but we always encourage to optimize whenever possible.
Additional Notes about Meta Descriptions:
The search results on Google are continually evolving to better accommodate the user’s search. As a result, the meta description specified on a page has not always been what displays in the search results. A snippet is really pulled at Google’s discretion. Depending on the specific search query, Google may showcase an alternate description pulled from the body copy of a webpage as opposed to the metadata because it may be deemed more relevant.
Due to this fact, some marketing professionals say you don’t need to optimize for the new count because the longer snippets are generated by the dynamic process. Again, we still recommend updating Yoast and upping the character counts on your top trafficked pages in order to better leverage the expanded real estate.
The team at Organik SEO will continue to monitor the rollout of the extended description and update this post with new findings and trends. If you have any questions or additional insights, leave a comment below, we would love to chat.