This month, Google has extended the maximum size of the meta description that is displayed on search result pages from 160 characters to 320 characters. Although the maximum length has been increased, Google still decides whether or not they show the text from the meta description. Google also decides how long the displayed description is.
A statement from Google’s John Mueller
In a Google Webmaster hangout on YouTube, Google’s John Mueller gave some more information:
“There’s a lot of talk about expanded and meta descriptions but people are split on whether or not SEO should update existing metas or let Google expand them for us. […]
We’ve been experimenting with showing longer descriptions in the search results and I believe that’s something that more and more people are seeing. For the descriptions that we show we try to focus on the meta description that you provide on your pages but if we need more information or more context based on the user’s query perhaps then we can take some parts of the page as well.
Essentially from from a purely technical point of view these descriptions aren’t a ranking for anything. So it’s not the case that changing your descriptions or making them longer or shorter or tweaking them or putting keywords in there will affect your site’s ranking.
However it can affect the way that users see your site in the search results and whether or not they actually click through to your site. So that’s kind of one one aspect there to keep in mind.
And with that aspect sometimes it does make sense to make sure that the description that you’re providing to search engines, that’s perhaps being shown to users when they search for normal things on your website.
That description is something that explains what your service is where your page offers, maybe the the unique proposition that you have on your page. That encourages people to click through to your page. That makes sense for a lot of cases.
And sometimes it makes sense to say ‘well I know how to describe this best, therefore I’ll write it up in the description and if Google can show this then my hope is that people will see my site is being clearly superior to all other ones and click on my site rather than some of the other ones that are ranking in the same search results page’. […]
[The meta description] can affect how your site is visible in the search results. So with that I definitely see see it as something legitimate where you might say well I want to make sure that my my kind of proposition is out there in full and therefore I’ll try to write something a bit longer and show that in my meta description.
Keep in mind that we adjust the description based on the user’s query. So if you’re doing a site query and seeing this in your search results for your site that’s not necessarily what a normal user would see when they see a search as well.”
You can view the video here:
How to write your meta descriptions
According to John Mueller, the meta descriptions do not influence the rankings of your web pages. However, they influence how your web pages will be presented on the search result pages. Pages with good descriptions get more clicks than pages with boring descriptions.
Among many other things, the website audit tool in SEOprofiler also checks the meta descriptions of your web pages and it helps you to optimize the meta descriptions. If you haven’t done it yet, try the website audit tool now: