08 Jun Dancing with Google’s 160-ish Meta Description Length
Google just shortened its meta descriptions. I’m not getting this second hand, folks. Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison of search, confirmed it in a tweet: “Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks, though slightly longer than before a change we made last December. There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.”
Talk about dancing with someone with commitment issues. But dance we must!
It was December 2, 2017, when Google changed the dance by making their titles and meta descriptions longer. Marketers responded by bumping up the length of key search landing page meta description snippets. We took up more real estate on search engine landing pages (SERPs) with snippets around 320 characters instead of the previous 160. Doing so made all the SEO sense in the world. We advised those longer snippets, which visitors saw first on organic searches.
Now the rules have changed, and we’re back to the 160-ish rules. Don’t panic. Approach the change like you would if dancing with someone who shifts from a box step to twerking without so much as a tap on the shoulder. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Keep your best foot forward. Put your strongest keywords and long-tail keywords at the front of your meta description.
- Be precise and make your movements relevant. Write your meta description in persuasive, specific, and relevant language. Pique the visitor’s interest. A CTA doesn’t hurt.
- Monitor and adapt. Track what is and is not working. For that you need data and the right metrics. Make sure when you change your meta descriptions, that you keep that variable noted in your data.
- Check your steps. Check your most important landing pages to ensure the descriptions aren’t cut off or reconfigured by Google. If they are, rewrite them according to the 160-ish length.
- Keep your knees loose and your sense of humor. That’s easier to do when you’ve got SEO experts to help you learn the new routine.