In the last few weeks, SEOs and publications have explored the recent change in Google’s maximum title and meta description length. Previously, title tags were limited to 50-60 characters, but they can now be as long as 70-71 characters. Meta descriptions have also been lengthened and you can now add an additional 100 characters. This is huge news for both online marketers and SEOs alike. What do these changes mean for your business? How can you take advantage of the new development to maximize click-through-rate (CTR) and drive traffic to your website?
Understanding titles & metas
Before we dive deeper, let’s do a quick refresh on what page titles and meta descriptions are.
Page titles are the names of pages on your website. They should be concise and clearly represent the content of a page. Very basic page titles include “Home,” “About Us,” and “Contact.” Typically, page titles also include the site name: “Home | Smith Law Firm LLP,” “About Us | Smith Law LLP,” and so on. Optimized website provide additional details in the page title to better indicate the content and context of a given page and target relevant keywords: “Smith Law LLP | Ottawa Real Estate Lawyers.” This gets even more detailed on internal pages and blog posts: “Everything You Need to Know about the Land Transfer Tax | Smith Law LLP.” Page titles appear at the top of the browser window
Meta descriptions describe the content of a page. The meta description for “Home” might be “Ottawa real estate law firm providing legal representation for commercial and residential real estate matters.” Meta descriptions are seen in search engine results, they can be pulled when shared on social etc. but they are not typically visible on the website itself.
Use more detailed metas to drive CTR
The expansion of meta descriptions by 100 characters with an additional line of text presents an opportunity to explain the content of a page in a much more helpful way. Now more than ever, you can accurately communicate what the page is about and drive clicks because the description is precise, relevant, and meaningful. The expanded title length doesn’t have quite as much impact, but those extra few characters can help you wiggle out of awkward titles you may have selected just to make it fit. Use the opportunity to say what you want to say with those glorious additional characters.
Don’t force it
Just because you can use up to 278 characters into the updated meta descriptions doesn’t mean you should. If the most apt meta description is 40 characters and a single sentence, leave it. If the most fitting description requires every last character and some creative wording to fit, that’s fine too. Focus on providing optimum value to searchers.
Don’t overhaul your site—at least not yet
Google is continually tweaking and changing things, and there is no guarantee that the extension of titles/metas will stick, or that the current length will hold for any extended period of time. The last thing you want to do is add an extra ten characters to all your titles across hundreds of pages only to see the update revert back, or to meticulously craft stunning metas only to discover in six months you have an additional 30 characters to play with. Still, you should absolutely capitalize and adjust your primary pages, just beware that according to SEJ some metas are still being truncated to two lines even with the update