How Long Should Your Meta Description Be? (2018 Edition)
Posted via Dr-Pete
Abstract: The tip of November noticed a spike within the moderate duration of SERP snippets. Throughout 10Ok key phrases (90Ok effects), we discovered a undeniable build up however many oddities, akin to video snippets. Our information means that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters, and going into 2018 we propose a brand new meta description restrict of 300 characters.
Again in spring of 2015, we reported that Google seek snippets gave the impression to be breaking the 155-character limit, however our information urged that those circumstances have been slightly uncommon. On the finish of November, RankRanger’s tools reported a large bounce within the moderate seek snippet duration (to round 230 characters). Anecdotally, we are seeing many lengthy snippets within the wild, akin to this 386-character one on a seek for “non compete settlement”:
Seek Engine Land was once in a position to get confirmation from Google of a metamorphosis to how they take care of seek snippets, even supposing we would not have specifics or legit numbers. Is it time to revisit our pointers on meta descriptions limits heading into 2018? We dug into our day-to-day 10,000-keyword monitoring information to determine…
The difficulty with averages
In our 10Ok monitoring information for December 15th, which consisted of 89,909 page-one natural effects, the common show snippet (stripped of HTML, in fact) was once 215 characters lengthy, relatively beneath RankRanger’s numbers, however neatly above ancient developments.
This quantity is no doubt attention-grabbing, however it leaves out rather just a little. To start with, the median personality duration is 186, suggesting that some giant numbers are probably skewing the common. However, some snippets are very quick as a result of their meta Ddescriptions are very quick. Take this snippet for Vail.com:
Positive sufficient, that is Vail.com’s meta description tag (I am not gonna ask):
Will we in point of fact care that numerous other people simply write ridiculously quick meta descriptions? No, what we in point of fact wish to know is at what level Google is slicing off lengthy descriptions. So, let’s simply have a look at the snippets that have been lower (made up our minds via the ” …” on the finish). In our information set, this leaves on the subject of three.6% (three,213), so we will be able to already see that the majority of descriptions don’t seem to be getting bring to a halt.
Coincidentally, the common continues to be 215, however let us take a look at the frequency distribution of the lengths of simply the lower snippets. The graph beneath displays cut-snippet lengths in boxes of 25 (Zero-25, 25-50, and so forth.):
If we are seeking to pin down a most duration for meta descriptions, that is the place issues get just a little bizarre (and irritating). There appears to be a piece of snippets bring to a halt on the 100–125 personality vary and any other bite on the 275–300 vary. Digging in deeper, we came upon that two issues have been happening right here…
Oddity #1: Video snippets
Spot-checking one of the vital descriptions bring to a halt within the 100–125 personality vary, we learned that plenty of them have been video snippets, which appear to have shorter limits:
Those snippets appear to in most cases max out at two traces, and they are additional limited via the distance the video thumbnail occupies. In our information set, a complete 88% of video snippets have been bring to a halt (led to ” …”). Keeping apart out video, best 2.1% of natural snippets have been bring to a halt.
Oddity #2: Pre-cut metas
A 2d oddity was once that some meta description tags appear to be pre-truncated (in all probability via CMS techniques). So, the “…” in the ones circumstances is an unreliable indicator. Take this snippet, as an example:
This clocks in at 150 characters, proper across the previous restrict. Now, let us take a look at the meta description:
This Goodreads snippet is being pre-truncated. This was once true for nearly the entire Goodreads meta descriptions in our information set, and could also be a CMS surroundings or a aware selection via their search engine optimization crew. Both method, it isn’t very helpful for our present research.
So, we tried to assemble the entire authentic meta description tags to test for pre-truncated information. We have been not able to assemble information from all websites, and a few websites do not use meta description tags in any respect, however we have been nonetheless in a position to take away one of the vital noise.
Let’s do that once more (…)
So, let’s pull out the entire lower snippets with video thumbnails and those the place we all know the meta description led to “…”. This cuts us down to one,722 snippets (lovely deep dive from the unique 89,909). Here is what the frequency distribution of lengths seems like now:
Now, we are getting someplace. There are nonetheless a couple of information issues down within the 150–175 vary, however when I hand-checked them, they seem like websites that had meta description tags finishing in “…” that we did not move slowly correctly.
The majority of those snippets are being bring to a halt within the 275–325 personality vary. On this smaller, however extra normal-looking distribution, we have were given a median of 299 characters and an average of 288 characters. Whilst we have needed to discard a good quantity of information alongside the way in which, I am a lot more ok with those numbers.
What in regards to the snippets over 350 characters? It is exhausting to look from this graph, however they maxed out at 375 characters. In some circumstances, Google is appending their very own data:
Whilst all of the snippet is 375 characters, the “Bounce…” hyperlink is added via Google. The remainder of the snippet is 315 characters lengthy. Google additionally provides outcome counts and dates to the entrance of a few snippets. Those characters do not appear to rely in opposition to the restrict, however it is a bit exhausting to inform, as a result of we would not have numerous information issues.
Do metas even subject?
Earlier than we expose the brand new restrict, here is an uncomfortable query — when it kind of feels like Google is rewriting such a lot of snippets, is it price having meta description tags in any respect? Around the information set, we have been in a position to effectively seize 70,059 authentic Meta Description tags (in lots of the ultimate circumstances, the websites merely did not outline one). Of the ones, simply over one-third (35.nine%) have been used as-is for show snippets.
Take into account, although, that Google truncates a few of these and appends additional information to a few. In 15.four% of circumstances, Google used the unique meta description tag, however added some textual content. This quantity might appear top, however all these circumstances have been merely Google including a duration to the top of the snippet. It appears, Google is a stickler for whole sentences. So, now we are as much as 51.three% of circumstances the place both the show snippet completely matched the meta description tag or totally contained it.
What about circumstances the place the show snippet used a truncated model of the meta description tag? Simply three.2% of snippets matched this situation. Hanging all of it in combination, we are as much as nearly 55% of circumstances the place Google is the usage of all or a part of the unique meta description tag. This quantity is more than likely low, as we are not counting circumstances the place Google used a part of the unique meta description however changed it one way or the other.
It is attention-grabbing to notice that, in some circumstances, Google rewrote a meta description for the reason that authentic description was once too quick or now not descriptive sufficient. Take this outcome, as an example:
Now, let’s take a look at the unique meta description tag…
On this case, the unique meta description was once if truth be told too quick for Google’s tastes. Additionally notice that, despite the fact that Google created the snippet themselves, they nonetheless lower it off with a “…”. This strongly means that slicing off a snippet is not an indication that Google thinks your description is low high quality.
At the turn aspect, I will have to notice that some very huge websites do not use meta description tags in any respect, and so they appear to fare completely neatly in seek effects. One notable instance is Wikipedia, a web site for which defining meta descriptions can be just about unattainable with out automation, and any automation would more than likely fall wanting Google’s personal functions.
I believe you will have to be very cautious the usage of Wikipedia for example of what to do (or what now not do), in the case of technical search engine optimization, however it kind of feels transparent from the information that, within the absence of a meta description tag, Google is completely able to rating websites and writing their very own snippets.
On the finish of the day, I believe it comes right down to keep watch over. For crucial pages, writing a just right meta description is like writing advert reproduction — there is actual price in crafting that duplicate to power pastime and clicks. There is no ensure Google will use that duplicate, and that reality may also be irritating, however the odds are nonetheless to your choose.
Is the 155 restrict lifeless?
Except one thing adjustments, and given the partial (even supposing missing in main points) affirmation from Google, I believe it is secure to experiment with longer meta description tags. Having a look on the blank distribution, and simply to provide it a pleasing even quantity, I believe 300 characters is a beautiful secure wager. Some snippets that duration might get bring to a halt, however the possible acquire of having in additional data offsets that moderately small possibility.
That isn’t to mention you will have to pad out your meta descriptions simply to money in on extra characters. Snippets will have to be helpful and inspire clicks. Partially, that suggests now not giving such a lot away that there is not anything left to power the press. If you are artificially restricting your meta descriptions, although, or when you assume extra textual content can be advisable to look guests and create pastime, then I might surely experiment with increasing.
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