Google recently expanded the length allowed in the meta description tag. This is generally a good thing for SEO professionals and site owners because now you have twice the characters (up to 320) you had before (up to 160-165) to promote your content or brand in the SERPs.
Lets talk a little bit about Meta Description Tag here. This is mostly for the SEO Beginners.
What is Meta Description Tag?
Meta Description Tag is a tag that appears in the <head> section of an HTML web page. It usually looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a text description of your web page.”/>
That tag gives both Google and visitors some information about the contents of the page. Meta Description is a useful meta tag because it explains to search engines and often searchers what your page is about.
Although Google doesn’t use the meta description tag for ranking purposes, it will often show the meta description in the search engine results (SERPs) in a form of a search snippet that appears just below the link. Note: Google doesn’t always show the meta description contents in the search snippet because sometimes it chooses to display page content that is more relevant to the user’s search query (keywords that you punch in when you run a search in Google search engine).
Although the meta description tag won’t always show up in search results, and Google stated that keywords in meta descriptions do not effect the ranking of the page, it is still useful because a compelling meta description tag could motivate searchers to click through from the SERP to your website.
Can meta tags have a real impact on Search Engine Optimization or SEM?
- Title Tag is one of “real deals” (we will discuss this important tag in a separate article); it can for sure impact your search engine rankings.
- Meta Descriptions may work as an “organic ad text.”
- Descriptive meta tags may entice users to visit your website.
- Meta Keywords don’t make much difference anymore (as per Google).
So, what is a takeaway from Google’s raising the allowed length of meta description tag:
You probably don’t need to go and change meta description tags on all of your old pages. Instead, use Analytics tool (for example, Google Search Console or GWT) to find the most visited content of your website and update meta description tags on those web pages. From now on, take advantage of the new length of meta descriptions on future blog posts, articles, and product detail pages.
Make sure to use that additional space to give people a reason to click on your link and improve the overall User Experience.