In a recent post on LinkedIn, I said that crappy digital marketing advice and crappy SEO software are still dominating certain discussions and advice provided to unsuspecting company owners, startup founders, and the average user who is looking for an expert advice.
The Case for Expert Content Strategy Advice
A good number of "award-winning", "leading", "experienced" content strategists and digital marketing/SEO advisers still insist that you should have your meta tags limited to 160 characters. This advice applies mainly to snippets i.e. the description of a page that shows below the URL in an organic search result on Google. Bing apply another approach to showing snippets.
So, for a long time Google really did limit the number of characters you can put on your website meta description and it was exactly 160 characters, blank spaces including.
As we said, an overwhelming majority of content strategists and digital marketers still advise you to keep your snippets below the 160-character mark. The same applies to various online tools and web-based apps that will mark your snippet in red if you check your website with them. They will tell you to optimize i.e. shorten your website meta descriptions and will respectively lower your website's scoring in regard to overall SEO.
Extend Your Website Meta Description
Each time you get an advice to limit your meta descriptions to 160 characters you can safely ask the expert who provided the advice or the makers of the website assessment tool if they have ever heard that Google have changed how they display snippets/page descriptions in search results.
Snippet length has grown from 160 characters to almost 230 characters on average. (You can read quite an extensive report on the site of Search Engine Land). In some cases, Google will extend the visible part of a website's snippet to up to 300 characters i.e. twice the length that was allowed a few months ago. Danny Sullivan of Google officially confirmed the news in December 2017 but many SEO and digital marketing are still unaware of the change or have fears embracing the new rules.
Actually, to our knowledge, no site has experienced troubles by getting advantage of longer snippets, nor suffered any penalties in terms of rankings.
As you can see, the snippet of our service at Inspiringly runs for 181 characters, dots and spaces including, and is still perfectly visible in Google search results.
No Time to Waste
Both reputable and obscure digital marketers are still reluctant to change the meta descriptions on the sites of their clients and even their own websites.
They justify such an approach by citing statements by senior Google officials, Danny Sullivan including, who say the new snippets implementation is a dynamic process and sometimes Google will decide how long a snippet to show in accordance with an algorithm they implement in searches.
Abstaining from taking advantage of longer snippets due to the above reasons is stupid. After all, Google will not cut one's meta description below the 160 characters limit while in many cases their search results will show a longer i.e. more detailed description of your website.
A completely safe and advantageous move is to take action and change your website snippet replacing it with a longer one and taking advantage of more space to showcase your product or service to prospects and neutral browsers alike.
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