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

I Can’t Drive 155: Meta Descriptions in 2015

Posted by Dr-Pete

For years now, we (and many others) have been recommending keeping your Meta Descriptions shorter than
about 155-160 characters. For months, people have been sending me examples of search snippets that clearly broke that rule, like this one (on a search for “hummingbird food”):

For the record, this one clocks in at 317 characters (counting spaces). So, I set out to discover if these long descriptions were exceptions to the rule, or if we need to change the rules. I collected the search snippets across the MozCast 10K, which resulted in 92,669 snippets. All of the data in this post was collected on April 13, 2015.

The Basic Data

The minimum snippet length was zero characters. There were 69 zero-length snippets, but most of these were the new generation of answer box, that appears organic but doesn’t have a snippet. To put it another way, these were misidentified as organic by my code. The other 0-length snippets were local one-boxes that appeared as organic but had no snippet, such as this one for “chichen itza”:

These zero-length snippets were removed from further analysis, but considering that they only accounted for 0.07% of the total data, … Read the rest

May 9, 2015  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Analyzing 11,555 Questions Asked by SEOs: The Moz Q&A Meta Study

Posted by gfiorelli1

Fear and Loathing in Mozlandia

Sometimes we don’t need to travel to exotic linked data sources to discover treasure troves of precious information about our audience’s desires, aspirations, fears, and complaints.

Sometimes that treasure is just far as a phone call to the customer care department.
Sometimes it is just a click away in the Q&A and/or Forum section of our site.
And sometimes it’s just there, freely offered by our own competitors to everybody able to retrieve the correct information from them.

Understanding what our audience is really talking about, what the specific language is that they use, and what their topics and themes are can be easier than we may first think.

Be aware that I don’t mean that extracting useful information about our audience is easy – that would be trivializing the audience targeting work – but I mean that nowadays, thanks to the social nature of the web, it is much easier finding valuable sources from where retrieving information than just ten years ago.

For this reason, as I already said in 
my previous post, I asked the editorial team at Moz to let me analyze one year of Moz Q&As, with the purpose of identifying what the community was most frequently talking and asking about, and what

Read the rest

June 25, 2014  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Must-Have Social Media Meta Tag Templates for Improved Sharing and SEO

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

At Moz, we strive to include social media metadata in all new pieces of content that we publish. This allows us to optimize for sharing Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinerest by defining exactly how titles, descriptions, images and more appear in social streams.

Think of it as conversion rate optimization for social exposure.

The implications for SEO are also significant. We know from experience and studies that the right

Read the rest

November 9, 2013  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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