Feb 19 2018

SEO Content and The New 320 Character Description Rule 2018

Posted by Aj Aviado , ,

Recently there have been updates and news about Google permitting and displaying longer descriptions on their search results. This has already been observed right when 2017 was about to end. Of course there are rare cases where the characters could now go past 320 to 386, this of course all still depends on the pixels the characters have.

Now, you might get all excited and even panicky about trying to reach that 320 character limit on all the pages of your site that’s got descriptions, that’s cool and all but, let’s take a look at this random search I did a few weeks ago:

"seo content in 2018" search result screenshot

As you can see, Search Engine Land – one of the most trusted and sought after sites for SEO has been outranked by a lower Domain Scoring, shorter description equipped page/post.

Why and how did this happen?

Today if you do the search again, the results will now be different obviously. But the point here is that Brafton.Com has utilized a more relevant content that is connected to the specific search term. Even if Search Engine Land has the most number of descriptions, and higher authority and is definitely older, the fact is that if you get to land a more informative and relevant set of content, you’ll get to trump even the highest ranking heavy hitters right now in search.

But, there certainly isn’t anything stopping you from writing long descriptions. One of the things that also affects these things is that if a 150+ short description is well written, it’ll still going to be performing well and better from the ones that have 300+ characters.

You might observe some cases where, a site didn’t have a set up description at all, but has a 300+ description being displayed on search. Well, after Google has deployed this new rule on the number of descriptions, it also had this feature where, if a page doesn’t have a description OR the description is not at all relevant to the search term BUT the page contains snippets of related content, it will pick pieces of that content to display as the description of that content.

Which brings us back to the most overly stated aspect in all if this, the creation of unique, relevant and helpful content.

Imagine of a site page doesn’t have a good description and okay content, that today will never perform well. At all.

Today, (as in 2018) one of the very important things to remember is for your content to be useful. Useful in such a way that everything you put in your website needs to answer potential questions your visitors / targeted audience might have. You don’t have to cram keywords and irrelevant boring stuff on your content. Stop thinking of trying to control things and offer the best answers the web still hasn’t got. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, if you want to rank well, you should think of ranking.

This is one of the things website owners miss out the most and unfortunately, most SEO agencies out there today. They usually think of how to outrank each other when they could be levelling with their core audience and listening to them and learning what their intent is. What they want, what they enjoy the most – these are the most important cues and clues you can use to further create a very helpful and relevant content you can present to your visitors.

Going back to descriptions. Moving forward, think about how your audience would and might behave. Though there already is an extended maximum limit of 320 characters for descriptions, know that not all people will have the temperament or time to read all that block of text. Of course, descriptions should not be too short, but if it’s also too long that will also become a turn off to the searcher. If you do indeed want to write a long version of your descriptions, make sure that it’s still concise and packed with information your searcher might be looking for. Meta Descriptions aren’t directly used for ranking, but, it is used mostly by the ones searching. So make sure that you get to present this the best way possible. And if people enjoy and visit your site more because of all this, then we already know who will end up on the top of the ranks.

A few more things to remember is that some website building platforms might still stick with descriptions that only run up to a maximum of 150 characters. One example is Wix.Com. If you have a website that’s made through Wix, you will still have to stick with a 150+ long description. Because literally, Wix will cut it off after 150 characters.

Wordpress Description Character Limit

*Wordpress also still uses a maximum of 160 characters.

But don’t worry, as long as you have the content, Google will find a way to display 300+ character long descriptions ┬áif the situation calls for it.

As for YouTube video descriptions, don’t get too excited as well. Google will still be limiting that. So short and concise descriptions for your vlog videos will still do. Just don’t put a dead guy in your thumbnail.

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