On the 29th of September 2017, I published a blog concerning the best practise of writing meta for your website – fittingly titled “SEO – It’s Better With Meta”. Little did I know that Google would change this.
Please welcome, SEO – It’s Better With Meta 2.0!
My last meta blog is now out of date, so I have taken it upon myself to update you guys on how you should be writing your meta and what Google’s update at the end of last year means for you.
If you were fortunate enough to delve into my last meta blog (which is still of some use), then good on you, but the next section isn’t for you. If you’re new to the premise of meta, then read on below and find out what meta is. For everyone else, skip down to ‘What does the change to meta description length mean to you?’.
What is meta?
Meta is a key element within the process of search engine optimisation (SEO). If you’re aiming for the highest heights on Google for your targeted keywords and search phrases, then you will need to carefully consider your website’s meta. More importantly, if you want a higher click-through rate from Google search results, then you need to make your meta enticing for a user.
The elements of meta which are key for SEO and the search results are the page title (also known as the meta title or meta tag) and the meta description.
What does the change to meta description length mean to you?
For some of you, absolutely nothing. For others, it will be a great help.
Google confirmed that they had extended the snippet lengths in search results at the end of last year – doubling the previous 160 character limit. Google decided to increase the length of snippets in search results to allow users to ‘provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches’ according to Search Engine Land.
Many people though are still not aware of the increase. This is mostly due to the fact that some toolsets and plugins have failed to be updated on the back-end of some websites.
So, meta descriptions are longer… or are they?
There’s no need to rush over to your website’s back-end to alter its pages’ meta description lengths.
Although Google has extended the meta description character length to 320 characters, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your old description of 160 characters is useless. Fundamentally, your meta description must be relevant and informative on what the page is about. If your smaller snippet content does this sufficiently and Google sees its relevance, then it will be displayed.
The theory behind meta descriptions remains the same
According to Search Engine Land, Google told them that the ‘fundamentals of writing a description tag have not changed’. This connects with my previous blog, in which I explained that the description should be an ‘introduction to your website… (and be) enough to persuade a person to enter your website from the SERP’.
Take a look how your website is appearing on Google
Conduct a few searches to see how your website appears on Google – focussing on the meta title and description. If you’re happy with how they’re all looking, then leave it be. If you’re not happy, then try sprucing them up. Let’s face it, you’ve got much more flexibility now!
You may find that Google is using content from your website as the snippet, this can be frustrating. Unfortunately, this cannot be controlled, but what you can do is make sure the your meta is written well and correlates with your website content and topic.
So, the conclusion here is… be aware of the character increase and act accordingly. Very elusive of me. I’m beginning to be as helpful as Google once they’ve announced an infamous update!
It’s always better with meta – so long as the meta is clear, relevant and appealing to your potential customers.