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It’s not often that a significant change comes to search engines rankings. When it does, like now, it’s an event worth showing some excitement over. 


The SERP (search engine results page) change increases the previous limit of 160 characters in meta descriptions to 320 characters, counts meta character descriptions, and now offers more real estate for optimizers to work. This increase in character meta description boosts the potential to capture the searcher’s interest and include more keywords for SEO.


With more characters, you may be able to boost your current CTR because you can include a more complete description to hook viewers and entice them to read more. Google will usually update your character description automatically, but if you want to tailor it to optimize your keyword and CTA density, you need to do it yourself sooner rather than later.




More Characters Should Reduce Bounce Rate





Searchers are busy and impatient. When they land on a page that’s even remotely different than what they expect to see, they leave in a hurry. A concise but comprehensive meta description can change that. The extra characters allow for more accurate descriptions of the page the user is about to visit. Armed with this information, they’ll be more likely to hang around once they get there.



More extensive meta descriptions give webmasters an opportunity to describe their pages with precise accuracy. This new functionality is fantastic for certain types of pages and not as useful as others. For pages that answer simple questions, the danger is the snippet is all the user needs to see! Since they don’t have to click to answer their query, they don’t bother.



For sites which provide a more comprehensive answer, the fuller description will entice searchers to click. If the end user is confident that the page has what they want, they’ll click often enough that your CTR ranking goes up.




Include CTAs in Meta Descriptions



It’s not a bad idea to learn copywriting skills, or to bring in someone who has them to polish off meta descriptions. Adding a compelling call to action makes the difference between success or failure for a web page. Offer the visitor a benefit for visiting your page and then observe the results to make further adjustments if needed.






Benefit-driven CTAs induce visits, so it’s worth taking the extra time to craft them for the new character limits. Meta descriptions aren’t appropriate locations to try to sell, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with appealing to their curiosity. Your meta description is all a viewer has to go on when they’re judging if your site is worth visiting. Making a good impression on potential customers starts in your description.




There May Be Some Work You Have to Do First



Most site owners who optimize for search engines, use plugins to help them. Most of those plugins will conform to the old, fewer character standard. You need to be vigilant and check your plugin to determine what character count it’s designed for. If your plugin hasn’t had an update in a long while, it may be time to retire it in favor of a fresher alternative.



Even if your plugin accepts the new character limits, chances are that your descriptions are not using the full space. You’ll have to go in and update the specifications manually for the best results. Naturally, if you have a massive site, you’ll need to prioritize this work versus other ongoing projects. At the very least, make sure all your new pages have the extra length descriptions.



It may seem like a lot of work now, but it can greatly increase your SERP ranking and visibility with your target audience.




You May as Well Lead the Pack





A lot of your competitors may be asleep at the wheel, rarely following search engines’ SEO updates. If that’s the case, new descriptions with 320 characters should help you pull ahead of them. The snippets look better in the SERPs, which makes people who look for the freshest information want to click on the pages that stand out from the rest. Staying current to algorithm updates will show you as an industry leader and increase your brand awareness as you consistently appear in result’s pages.  



Anytime there’s a significant change like this, those who get on the bandwagon quickly receive an advantage. It may not be a huge edge, but every little bit helps when it comes to improving search engine rankings. The people who ignore this change, by default, will fall further behind those who implement new tags fast. This would be an excellent opportunity to review every aspect of your search engine optimization principles as well.




Don’t Forget to Use Your Desired Key Phrases



Since Google thinks highly enough of meta descriptions that they are extending the character limit, it seems like this valuable real estate should have pertinent key phrases. Since you know Google’s “crawlers” are picking up these descriptions, including relevant keywords in your description is a smart idea. There’s no reason to overdo it, just use the most descriptive words that bring people to your website.



You may also want to consider Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are ancillary phrases that describe the theme or idea your page conveys. That way, instead of repeating the same words, you’ll be able to craft natural-reading sentences that both search engine’s and searchers appreciate. All of this advice is fantastic, as long as you do an excellent job of researching your key phrases. Perfect search engine campaigns require planning, but they also need you to monitor and update them continuously.



LSI keywords will allow you to write complete natural sentences, and go a bit beyond the traditional “long tail keywords”. Doing so will give your meta tags and your page a better overall structure. It’s worth researching these types of ancillary phrases just to help you brainstorm on all the possible ways enter ideas when they want answers. Common sense plays a vital role in search engine optimization. Use measurable data via tools and research to help inform your SEO keyword choice to see what your target audience searchers for most.



If you plan on changing many pages at once to reflect new meta tags, you’ll want to monitor how Google reacts. Monitoring software allows you to eliminate the guesswork. You’ll quickly know if any rankings changes take place, and you’ll have a historical snapshot to review for impact. Use A/B testing to figure out what causes change in your ranking to occur and record that information for your records and future use.




Earn More From Longer Meta Descriptions



SERP Ranking



Since meta descriptions have risen in popularity, top ranked websites with shorter descriptions will likely fall in rankings. However, top sites which present  their descriptions in the new format should result in them getting more clicks than other results. That’s not surprising, considering the ‘rich get richer‘ type of rankings that Google has in abundance. Sites that tend to rank well already will benefit from an extended meta description.



Although this change may not be enough on its own to drive a new page to the number one slot on a SERP, it seems likely that pages which rank well will improve their click-through rates and dominate even more.




Potential Drawbacks to Watch



Some SEO and SEM experts are predicting that Google is doing this to actually reduce click-through rates. I disagree. I believe Google’s goal (besides driving revenue) is to make their service better for their users and display the best results for a search.



Seeing a longer meta description snippet may very well lead to a lower CTR for some high-level, “quick answer” types of searches. But, for topics that require in depth explanations, longer and descriptive snippets could see a boost in CTR. Keep watch on Google Search Console, and any other tools you may utilize like SEMRush, Moz Keyword Explorer, etc. and watch your CTR. If you start to see a dip, look at the SERP result from the user perspective. Are you answering the user’s question effectively, while leading them through to take your desired action?




Doing the Job Right Gets Results



It’s never too late to fix a broken page or release a fresh one. Now’s the time to bear down and produce the kind of pages that visitors want and that search engines can’t help but adore. Rankings are always something that can experience flux. However, when you put the right fundamentals in place, steady growth is always a possibility.



More characters means now is the time to concentrate on quality writing. Many web pages contain errors and factual mistakes. You have a chance to push mistake-free and comprehensive pages ahead of your competition. Committing to editing and upgrading your existing pages is another simple way to stay competitive in your market.



Trying to rank in search engines will require monitoring your and your competitors’ pages. When you spot a trend, you need to decide how much time and money to invest in chasing it. By implementing robust fundamentals and the proceeding with open-mindedness, you’ll find your pages spend a lot of time at the top.




In Conclusion



People want something that stands out, that’s original. Change is what captures people’s attention, so don’t be afraid to try something bold and new.



When you sample the SERPs, you’ll see a combination of the new and old-style descriptions. As you can see, more words make for more dominant listings. Technological change happens fast, so the sooner you adopt those changes, the better your pages will do.




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