Early December Google changed the length of the search results meta description from 160 characters to 320, a change that came out of the blue but a welcome change at that. If you use a WordPress SEO plugin such as Yoast you will have noticed that you can write much longer meta descriptions now, this isn’t a mistake as a few clients thought but actually the new allowable length. Google may or may not show the entire 320 characters, it looks like the full description will show if considered relevant only.

Yoast Meta Description Length Changed to 320

How does this change your SEO efforts?

From what we can tell not much will change if you already apply good practices such as high-quality writing and correct placement of keywords and phrases in your meta descriptions. You may want to increase the length of your existing meta descriptions but whether it will affect your ranking will yet to be seen.

We have noticed that Google will show a featured result at the top of the first page for the most relevant site, this result appears to pull a paragraph from the article instead of the meta description. This may affect the CTR but this is yet to be proven, one thing for sure is that the top ranking positions will become even more valuable with these changes.

Featured Search Results

You can see that some search results are also showing longer meta descriptions for more relevant results. Expect to see longer meta descriptions in search results in the future.

Longer Meta Descriptions Google

How does this change things with Bing & other search engines?

It’s too early to really say if Bing will follow with this, Bing shows 150 characters of the Meta Description. Our advice would be to carry on with the current best practices and follow Google’s guidelines and include the most vital information within the first 150 characters.