We researched longer meta descriptions: here are our findings
Yoast
April 23, 2018

For this research project, we picked 100 of the most visited pages on our site. Before we made any changes we did a baseline measurement, by gathering data from our Google Search Console account. We wanted to know how high these pages ranked before we changed the meta description with Yoast SEO, in order to compare it to the rankings afterwards....

We analyzed new Google Search Console data after two weeks and compared it to the baseline measurements. The first thing we noticed was that Google created a lot of the meta descriptions itself, regardless of the ones we wrote and of the group a specific page was in. This means that we didn’t see a clear difference between the various groups we had created. So, in other words, it didn’t matter if we’d created long or short meta descriptions and whether the description was written with a high or low keyword density. Secondly, we looked at which part of the copy Google used to extract a meta description. In two-third of the cases, Google used sentences from the first paragraph. It’s not a guarantee, whatsoever, but it is a clear indication that writing an introduction for your article should be done with the meta description in mind....

We conducted this research on only one site. A site that has quite a few high rankings and high domain authority, as well as a lot of extensive articles. This makes it a good example site to test on, but the results might differ from other sites.

We won’t advise you to go and change all your existing meta descriptions. What would make sense, for most sites at least, is to take a look at your best ranking articles and make those descriptions longer and meaningful. In all other cases we’d recommend to focus on the content of your article. State clearly what the article is about in your first paragraphs, so if Google picks a description itself it’s likely to be a good one!
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