How Long Should Your Meta Description Be? (2018 Edition)

Posted by Dr-Pete

Summary: The end of November saw a spike in the average length of SERP snippets. Across 10K keywords (90K results), we found a definite increase but many oddities, such as video snippets. Our data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters, and going into 2018 we recommend a new meta description limit of 300 characters.

Back in spring of 2015, we reported that Google search snippets seemed to be breaking the 155-character limit, but our data suggested that these cases were fairly rare. At the end of November, RankRanger’s tools reported a sizable jump in the average search snippet length (to around 230 characters). Anecdotally, we’re seeing many long snippets in the wild, such as this 386-character one on a search for “non compete agreement”:

Search Engine Land was able to get confirmation from Google of a change in how they handle snippets, but we don’t have a lot of details. Is it time to revisit our guidelines on meta descriptions limits heading into 2018? We dug into our daily 10,000-keyword tracking data to find out…

The trouble with averages

In our 10K tracking data for December 15th, which consisted of 89,909 page-one organic … Read the rest

December 19, 2017  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Why Won’t Google Use My META Description?

Posted by Dr. Pete

I’ve seen some frustration in Q&A lately with how Google is handling search snippets and META descriptions. You may have seen a schizophrenic search result that looked something like this:

Sample Search Snippet

Site owners are understandably frustrated when they see the META descriptions they’ve labored over get carelessly tossed aside. So, where do snippets come from, and is there anything you can do to stay in control?

Search Snippet Basics

Typically, search snippets come from 1 of 3 places (and we’re just talking basic snippets here, not rich snippets like sitelinks):

  1. META descriptions
  2. On-page copy
  3. Open Directory Project (ODP) data

In the example above, Google is using my query ("January 11") and pulling up page content that the algorithm thinks is relevant. Since that copy is really just dates and fragments, I end up with a strange mash-up of on-page copy.

Controlling Search Snippets

So, is there anything you can do to bend Google to your will and always use your META descriptions? Unfortunately, the short answer is "no". Like so much of SEO, though, there are some ways to nudge Google in the right direction:

1. Focus Your META Description

Let’s say that, for some reason, … Read the rest

January 26, 2011  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments



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