While many marketers and webmasters will have spent time increasing meta description lengths, this has now been undone.
Google has confirmed that they have shortened the search results snippets. This comes just 5 months after it previously increased the length of search results snippets.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s own Search Liaison, stated clearly what has exactly changed:
Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks, though slightly longer than before a change we made last December. There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) 14 May 2018
The length of the snippet itself is entirely dynamic, and Google has not stated a maximum length.
So while any longer meta descriptions may now not be showing, it seems meta descriptions are still receiving more characters in the search results.
6 months back, the max characters available in the search results was around 320 characters. However, now it is around 160 characters.
What do I need to do?
Not too much really – unless you extended your meta descriptions to around 320 characters back in November/December 2017 time.
If your meta descriptions are around the 140-200 character mark, there is little benefit trying to gauge Google’s preference, as the character limit is entirely dynamic.