Back a few months ago, it was all the rage to start creating elongated meta descriptions. There was a study done by Moz, where it was found that the best length for meta descriptions was between 50 and 300 characters. This being said, for many years, the limit was about 160 characters, meaning that many individuals were putting more than their share.
This is important because back in December, SEO Specialists started noticing that the limits seemed to have increased, with their short descriptions being re-written by the search engine, but sometimes the snippets with over 160 characters were being rewritten as well. We started to see that Google really started to implement its rewriting, as they were trying to really show the consumers what the page was about, instead of allowing the websites to try and put their best foot forward.
While in December we saw these increased snippets of meta descriptions, we also saw some people trying to take advantage of that, but utilizing black hat SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing, as they were allowed more room to do so. One of the things we can look at as an example is how Instagram limits the number of hashtags one can use to thirty.
We have recently caught wind that Google has gone back to its 160 character limit, as they have re-shortened the length that you can write within, without being rewritten. We found this out via a study done by Search Engine Land, where they have been tracking the average meta description length, which for the past few days have seemed to have dropped from about 230, back down to the average of 160. It will be interesting to see how SEO Specialists react, especially if they had gone through and increased character usage within meta descriptions.