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How to Leverage Google's Nearly 300-Character Meta Description Update

Stu Eddins

Google has updated the description snippets that appear below the blue links in search. Formerly limited to 165 characters and spaces, snippets of up to 270 characters are now available. While Google can select page content to populate the snippet, usually the snippet comes from the page’s meta-description tag.

Site owners can begin updating their meta description content, but is writing longer meta descriptions beneficial or necessary? The answer depends on the goal of the page.

Longer meta descriptions can allow organizations to be more detailed about their services and benefits, which would assist search users looking for care. For example, a walk-in clinic page might include details about the types of services offered while a page about knee replacement could call out their minimally invasive surgical options. In either case, longer descriptions can provide a better user experience.

Ready to improve user experience? Email our digital strategy team.

Meta descriptions with greater detail can help users get a better idea of whether your page content will answer their questions, which can improve click-through rate and increase search rankings over time. More so than ever, meta description writers need to understand the business goals of each important page and how the pages work together within a service line and the overall site.

For now, we recommend planning for meta descriptions that are around 270 characters and that give solid information while focusing on the user and business goals. The MedTouch digital strategy team is analyzing how longer meta descriptions affect user experience, Google’s search results rankings, and click-through rates.

Stu Eddins, manager of online marketing at MedTouch, says there’s no urgent need to revise and lengthen all the meta descriptions on your site. Start with the site’s highest priority pages, and see how the changes affect search traffic. Stu also recommends including a very brief call to action in the description text to encourage engagement (learn more, discover treatment options, etc.).

Contact our digital strategy team to discuss longer meta descriptions.

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