SEO deals merely with writing blogs and pages that will show up on the initial search engine results page (SERP), right? Well, not exactly. As important as the content on the actual page is, it is the meta title and description that is displayed on the SERP. This information is what browsers see when they input a search query on Google, and it should be tailored to accurately describe the page content while optimizing targeted keywords. While both meta titles and descriptions play a vital role in improving organic search engine rankings, we’re here to talk about meta descriptions.
In early 2015, researchers spotted a trend of Google allowing search snippets that exceeded the typical 155-character limit. At the time it was a rare occurrence, and one would have been presumptuous to assume that longer meta descriptions were on the horizon. Although premature, that individual would have been right.
What Incited the Meta Limit Reconsideration
In November of 2017, Rank Ranger reported search snippets (meta descriptions on SERP) of around 230 characters, a 75-character increase from the previously acceptable limit. With a quick Google search, you may even find a few meta descriptions that exceed 300 characters. In a recent study that analyzed over 25,000 search snippets, researchers discovered that they (excluding those for videos) clocked in at an average of 309 characters per snippet.
What this new data suggests is that Google is now displaying longer meta descriptions. The majority of snippets cut off by Google (where Google replaced excess characters with “…”) were between 300 and 325 characters, which is why marketing experts are suggesting a 300-character limit.
Although Google still has the freedom to truncate or edit snippets where they see necessary, this is a prime opportunity for marketing teams to think about lengthening meta descriptions. This does not mean, however, that individuals should start writing longer meta descriptions just because they can. If one believes that he or she can convey a message clearer and further entice readers with the extra characters, then by all means; but remember that the point of the description is to get the reader to click the link and not to give away the page’s message.
The Importance of Meta Descriptions
With Google cutting and editing meta descriptions as they please, one may wonder if drafting a meta description is at all valuable. For those with such inquiries, your concerns are valid, but the data shows that your SEO efforts are not always to no avail. Statistics show that Google used all or part of original descriptions roughly 55% of the time. This number excludes the numerous cases where they simply added a period for proper punctuation.
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