Google has recently confirmed that it’s made a change to the way it displays snippets in search results. Meta descriptions used to cap out at around 160 characters, however, now they can be as long as 320 characters.
Google has experimented with snippet lengths in the past, but has only started to roll out official changes since November this year. At the moment, roughly 51% of organic search results are now showing the longer lengths.
For example, a random Google search for ‘doughnuts’ returns a series of listings with meta descriptions appearing in both the new and the old formats.
When people started noticing that longer descriptions were appearing in search results, RankRanger started tracking these changes and determined that the average meta description is now sitting at around 230 characters.
What do These Changes Mean for Digital Marketers?
At the moment, it looks like nothing will change for digital marketers.
According to Danny Sullivan, the longer snippets are formed via “a dynamic process”, so digital marketers shouldn’t start expanding their tags.
To provide the longer, more informative snippet, Google is currently using the existing meta description, and then pulling extra relevant information from the page to bulk it up and provide extra value to users.