Are Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Getting Longer?

Are title tags and meta descriptions getting longer? Google search users in the USA are seeing some changes to the way search results are displayed.

SEO Observers have noted that title tags now appear to have been increased to 70 characters, a significant increase from the 55-60 characters that had previously been displayed in English and most other languages that originated in Western Europe. This shift appears to be a move by Google to infill the page layout and use the space left vacant following the removal of the right-side ad bar.

 

Meta Descriptions Increase in Length

It’s not just meta titles that have been lengthened. Meta descriptions have increased to around 250 characters and now extend across three lines rather than two. That’s a significant increase and gives site developers around 40 to 45 words with which to describe products and services.

The change to search appears to have taken place around the 4th May. However, as many sites are optimised to provide meta description text of 155 characters and meta titles of around 55 characters it had largely gone unnoticed by the SEO community and the general public. The change appears to be mainly affecting searchers using Google.com within the USA. However, some contributors to Search Engine Journal and Reddit have suggested that some searches in Australia and the UK have also been affected by the move to a longer result format.

With no official word from Google on the new character limits, it is possible that this move is a test, rather than a confirmed variation. Anyone editing a site would be well advised to wait for a clarifying announcement before making alterations to their metadata.  We do know that other tests are ongoing. For instance, The SEM Post has been reported that in some regions the clickable title is being served in black rather than the more standard blue. It is possible, that this increase in metadata lengths could be part of a similar experiment.

 

Long-Term Effects of Longer Meta Descriptions and Meta Titles

It is a little early to see what longer meta tags could mean for the online industry. Anecdotal data from a number of sites who have carried out tests suggests that well-written content that takes advantage of these extra characters, could draw in additional customers and increase the click-through rate accordingly. Conversely, simply adding additional text to reach the new character limits without adding any value, could have a negative effect.

There is also a possibility that a diverged format between Google and Yahoo/Bing could pose a headache for developers. If other search engines do not move to the same word counts, we could see some very strangely truncated metadata appearing in other search engines.

Our SEO team will keep you up to date with developments (and any official confirmation from Google) as we get more information.