After lengthening the character limit to upwards of 300 last December, Google has now shortened the meta description snippet length back down to about 160 characters, around where it was before the increase. According to Google’s Danny Sulllivan, “There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.”
SEOs have always known that the meta description has no actual SEO value. We do know, however, that it has tremendous conversion value when properly written (highly descriptive, benefit-rich and compelling).
It’s nothing new, really. Google giveth and Google taketh away. That’s why it’s so important NOT to chase these minor alterations, algorithmic or otherwise. There’s only one thing you can be sure of and that’s the fact that Google will always reward webmasters who are focused on providing a solid user experience. Following from search engine optimization guidelines is good practice, but chasing every small change is not recommended.
For all those out there who spent countless hours rewriting meta descriptions to arbitrarily fill up that 300 character space, you’re — ahem — SOL.
Google confirms it shortened search results snippets after expanding them last December
Time spent increasing meta descriptions for the longer Google search results snippets may have been wasted.