Last week, Google confirmed they are rolling out longer search snippets but they also said via Danny Sullivan that you do not need to, nor should you, update your meta descriptions to support the longer search results snippets. They said it is a dynamic thing and Google can handle it.
While Google can handle it, John Mueller from Google said that if you want to control what those longer search results snippets say in the Google search results - then he said you probably can and should update your meta descriptions to somewhat better control that. He made it clear that the meta descriptions have no impact on ranking but they can impact your click through rate in the search results and thus, if you want to make the most appealing search result snippet, the meta description can help with that.
Google of course would not always use your meta description, it is both query dependent and page content dependent, but if you want to try to control them, update your meta descriptions.
John Mueller from Google spent a good few minutes discussing this in detail in the latest Google webmaster hangout. He started at the 29:41 mark and said:
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. What's your take?
So I saw some discussion around this I don't know what what people have been discussing.
So in general what one of the things we've been experimenting with are showing longer descriptions in the search results and I believe that's something that more and more people are seeing.
So 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 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 kind of encourage people to click through to your page that probably 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 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.
So with that in mind. Itâs not a ranking factor. It 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.
The one thing to kind of keep in mind there is 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. So make sure to check in search console and search analytics what the top queries are that are leading to your pages and try those queries out see what your site search results look like. And if you want to change the snippet that's shown for your site for individual pages on your site then by all means go off and do that.
Here is the video embed, I suggest you watch it:
So check Google Search Analytics, test to see what people see for your most important pages in Google, and tweak them on a one by one basis.
Forum discussion at YouTube.