Google Update And Relevance As SEO Ranking Factor
In short, the meta description is a brief description of how Google is given information, preferably in addition to the meta title, about the outcome of the SERP.
To simplify the understanding process, think of Google’s results as a heading in a newspaper: each ad has a number of words that the author can use to make the announcement as attractive to the reader, and thus to determine an action on its part.
Reality is the same with Google. However, what is changing is the environment in which the information is presented (from offline to online) and with the environment and the ability to modify information in real time, facilitating the process of adapting the “ad” to searches, desires, needs and, implicitly, target audience behavior.
Is Meta Description a Ranking Factor?
The SEO world exposes different views on the importance of meta descriptions in positioning within SERPs.
There is Google’s official position, supported by institutions with an important say in SEO, such as MOZ, which clearly states that meta descriptions do not influence the results ranking process.
According to them, meta descriptions have a descriptive, informative role for the user and can, therefore, have an important say in improving click-through rate (CTR).
Of course, besides this official position, in the extreme opposite there is a camp that considers that, in fact, Google analyzes the contents of meta descriptions and takes them into account in the ranking algorithm.
Regardless of the camp we tend to tilt, it’s important to keep in mind that meta descriptions have a say when it comes to positioning in the online environment, whether they do it in a direct way through Google indexing, or indirectly, by the impact they bring to the user’s level when he reads them.
That is why, in the following lines, we will review and make some recommendations on meta descriptions and how ideally they should be drafted.
Recommendations for meta description
At the beginning of December, Google officially confirmed the expansion of the number of characters displayed in SERPs, where the meta description text is frequently taken.
From preliminary analysis, it looks like the maximum size is now around 320 characters (instead of 160-170 how many were displayed until this change).
According to a Rank Ranger survey quoted by Search Engine Land, the average number of characters in Google’s SERP’s description meta in November 2017 has seen a significant increase, as can be seen in the chart below.
It is particularly noteworthy the significant increase in the last part of the interval:
The change was also confirmed by Google engineer John Mueller in a chat on Google Hangout, but also by Danny Sullivan or Rand Fishkin on twitter.
It’s likely that some of you are considering updating meta descriptions to give them a bigger dimension with the official change announced by Google.
However, Google snippets are increasingly generated dynamically, based on the user’s search specifics and the content identified by the search engine, both in meta-description and in the visible content on the page.
In other words, if Google thinks your result is so relevant that it needs a more robust meta description, it will most likely turn to the content of the page and extract the information there.
The content of the meta description tag must be easy to understand by the search engine user.
In a lot of snippets that promise to give him what he is looking for, your result will not get attention for more than a few seconds from a user.
Therefore, you have to make sure that the user interaction with your “ad” will improve your CTR, resulting in an action on your part, be it a simple visit, or a visit that will lead to a conversion (acquisition, subscription, video viewing, etc.).
My recommendation for editing the description meta (for the situation where you decide to customize this parameter):
- Follow the new dimension promoted by Google (around 300-320 characters)
- Shrink the content on the page briefly.
- Present a short advertisement (a call to action).
- Enunciate to be formulated in active diathesis, and include elements in the query.
- To reflect that the site responds to the motivation of the user behind the search.
- Include the main words 1-2 times to be visible in bold search.
- Include the USP of the site (unique selling proposition)
In the next period, I will analyze the impact of Google’s changes on search engine results in Ireland, so that ongoing SEO campaigns will benefit from this new opportunity. As we discover relevant insights, we will publish this information on the blog. It is advisable to read also The largest Google Search Console update in recent years