Recently Google announced a change in meta descriptions. The change enables longer snippets to be shown in the search results.

Search Engine Land reported that a Google spokesperson had said:

“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.”

Previously a snippet was 160 characters. Your search results can now show longer snippets than before. A definitive number hasn’t been confirmed, with several CMS plug-ins we’ve looked at limiting you to roughly 320 characters. Although there are snippets with a longer character length. The below has a description of 319 characters.

How does this impact my website?

This change doesn’t impact anyone in the short-term. Your meta descriptions will still be valid and will still present in search results. In fact, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, gave this advice:

So, I’m supposed to do nothing?

Of course not. This all simply means that there’s no rush to edit your meta data, it can be a slow process. If you’re working on more time-sensitive work then complete that first and work in the SEO updates around that.

If it’s not important, why bother?

Longer Snippets mean that you can display more information in search engine results to show users the relevance of your page. This has the potential to increase the number of times your pages appear in search results. It also has the added benefit of potentially lowering bounce rates on websites and pages, as users will have that little bit more information prior to clicking through. Which, when you think about it, is pretty handy!

We’ll be able to tell you more in a few months, once we’ve tried and tested the new Snippet length on our own website.