Last month, a Google spokesperson told SearchEngineLand:
"We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average."
This is a big deal.
A snippet, technically known as meta description, is that short description you see under a link when you search for something on Google. Optimizing your meta description is a core SEO strategy to attract followers. Before it used to be 155 characters, but now it is double that. Marketing blog Moz suggests that snippets should not exceed 300 characters.
But that doesn't mean you should use all of it.
Outsourced CMO Tip: Concise is always better
The problem with more character limits is that in your urgency to fill out all the remaining space you don't realize that you are actually cluttering it. Most of the time, the most attractive visual is the simplest one. Having too much information crammed into your meta description is going to take away the conciseness of your brand messaging.
Recently one of our clients decided to make an already perfectly working landing page better by adding more content to it. The second they did that, conversions fell and it took us a while to figure out what it was.
Always remember: less clutter, more focus.
Outsourced CMO Tip: Don't spam your meta description
The days of plugging your meta description with keywords are going away. Outsourced CMO Raj Prasad says, "I think it’s pretty evident that contextual search is either already there or it’s coming. You don’t have to super load key words into your meta descriptions, but you should use some key words that you think are the most relevant. So if you are trying sell pizza delivery then make sure the words 'pizza delivery' are in your meta descriptions. Because once again you have to look at the user as being overwhelmed with information and results, and you have to make it easy for them to find you."
Outsourced CMO Tip: Avoid clickbait snippets
Ever notice how you can never get a one-word answer to a simple question on the Google search results page? It might be a simple yes or no, but you can never figure out the answer from just reading snippets. It can be annoying to users, but click baiting your meta description with something along the lines of "we have your answer, but you're going to have to click our link to know what is it" is one of the oldest tricks to drawing visitors.
We don't recommend that.
People will rather go to the person who gave the information out right. It's an act of goodwill and the person reading it will appreciate it. Also if they want further information, they are more likely to click on it because they now know there actually is some content behind the link. People are afraid of "click here" and "read more" in snippets because they don't want to be led to another spam website loaded with viruses.