Google appear to have reverted meta descriptions back to 160 characters

google search meta descriptions

Less than six months ago, Google extended the character limit of meta descriptions displayed in SERP's to 320 characters and us marketers were simultaneously celebrating and commiserating.  We were celebrating because we had the long-awaited chance to double the copy we use to invite searchers into our pages. We were commiserating because we were to have our work cut out if we had to re-write the descriptions for each page of all of our clients websites.

Well our commiserations were short-lived, because Google appears to be rolling back this change in the last week!

screaming frog tweet

That's bad luck for anyone who spent any amount of time re-writing their descriptions to make use of the new 320 character limit (ahem, us). It's probably a big relief for the majority of marketers who hadn't got round to starting that arduous task yet!

The lesson to take away from this is that Google are ALWAYS testing changes and we should never really be following super-strict guidelines. For the same keyword, they might show 155 characters on Firefox and 320 characters on Chrome (according to few random tests we did this week) so there's no point getting hung up on these minor details!

google quote on meta descriptions

The world of SEO is always changing and is great at finding ways to keep us on our toes. The key to success is to keep on top of best practice guidelines and continue to provide an absolutely fantastic online experience for your users.

Our advice?

If you re-wrote your meta descriptions, hopefully you remembered to include the most crucial information within the first 160 characters anyway (we'll call that 'risk mitigation' for you business minds out there). If so, don't worry about it.

If you didn't, we would suggest that you have a little switcheroonie so you're most valuable ad copy is within the first 155 characters of each meta description.  If you're short for time, you could revert back altogether to your old meta descriptions (which obviously you were sensible enough to have kept in a safe place somewhere).

Need some help? Find it all a little confusing? We can help!