In December 2017, Google further expanded its MEAT description length to 320 characters. A longer description and more room to insert keywords might sound good overall, but what does this mean for you as a business owner? If you have a website, it can actually be quite good, especially if you know a little about search engine optimization (SEO). Just a basic SEO audit and slight adjustments to your keywords going forward can help you drive more traffic to your site.
Benefits of Longer Descriptions
Up until December, the maximum number of characters you could include in your META was 160. The longer length can mean big news for your website.
First, longer snippets mean you can include more information. If you have a blog post, you can provide more details about what it covers. That extra information might get you more clicks because searchers might be more interested in what you have to say. Keep in mind though, the META description by itself may have no effect on your page ranking. But, the extra words in the snippet could make searchers want to click on your page more than on a competitor’s site.
Extra words let you use keywords more naturally. With 320 characters to play with, there’s a smaller need to keyword stuff. You can populate your meta description to include more keywords that relate to your content.
If you have a blog that relates to a single subject with multiple pages that are similar, the extra characters can help you distinguish between content. You also have more room to include a call to action, which is something that gets readers to click the link to arrive at your site. The added clicks can even mean more sales.
Disadvantages of the New Length
Aside from the advantages, Google’s new META description length does come with a few disadvantages.
Google searchers who are looking for answers to a basic question are more likely to get what they need in the search results without clicking on a page. Single-question queries can be answered without a page visit. A smaller number of individuals clicking links could mean less traffic directed to your page.
Longer snippets mean taller search results pages. Taller result pages push the bottom results further down the page. Some searchers aren’t going to continue scrolling, which means if your page is further down in the results, it’s likely that it won’t be seen by as many people.
Adopting New Tactics
So, what can you do to use these tactics to your advantage? From here forward, create META descriptions on each page of your site. Also, make sure these snippets are extremely descriptive, and audit your business website for SEO.
Don’t lengthen old descriptions unless they are critical pages, like home pages.
Consider the following best practices for META creation:
- Include the primary and top secondary keywords in the description
- Use the primary keyword as early in the description as possible
- Start the META with an action verb to entice users to click
The main purpose of the META is to get users to click and visit your page. Longer snippets may drive more traffic to your site and get you noticed above your competition.