Originally posted 12/22/17, updated 5/21/18
Like an elf under the cover of night, Google recently, silently, and somewhat secretly extended the length of its SERP snippets.
Officials from Search Engine Land were able to get confirmation for the change, but Google has yet to offer concrete directives for how websites should adjust.
The long-term impact on Click Through Rate and more is still unclear, but insiders are suggesting that websites embrace and experiment with these new parameters.
Moz suggests aiming for an even 300 characters. While there is no need to go back and reformat all of your existing meta descriptions, you should reassess those associated with your top organic search pages and optimize accordingly.
Resist the urge to pad your descriptions with fluff. Instead, use this extra space to provide readers with additional value that entices them to visit your site.
Keep an eye on this space for additional meta description developments. Questions? Need help? You can contact our digital marketing team here.
UPDATED MAY 21, 2018: Five short months after expanding its search results snippets, Google has confirmed that this length has dropped. Responding to a Tweet from Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz, Google’s own Danny Sullivan verified that snippets “are now shorter on average than in recent weeks,” with specs from RankRanger’s Tracker showing an average of approximately 160 characters on desktop and 130 on mobile, down from 300 or more. Sullivan added that the character count is slightly longer than before the change occurred in December, and that length can vary dependent upon system needs. Google recommends users not spend time revising old meta descriptions, as its snippets are often pulled from other content such as page copy.