Meta descriptions are short again!

One of the things you can do with your content is provide meta descriptions. A meta description is simply a description of your page, seen by search engines, so that they know what your page is about. If you’re lucky, they’ll show up in the SERPS (search engine results pages) for your page. If you don’t designate a meta description, Google will pull one from the content of your page. Sometimes they’ll do that if they don’t like the description you’ve written too.

Meta Descriptions are Short

Historically, the limit for characters in a meta description was 155, and if you went over that, then Google would truncate your description. So it was considered best practice to be succinct. You’d want to stay within the character limits and also be descriptive and compelling.

But then last December, we started to notice something. Meta descriptions were getting longer. In fact, we started seeing meta descriptions as long as 320 characters, which is huge! Literally and figuratively.

The reasoning for this we can only guess at, but the assumption was that you could give your potential readers more information about what the page was about. So we all started increasing our snippet lengths.

Oh, but not so fast! It’s June and we’re back to shorter meta descriptions. I guess that change didn’t stick and when Google tells us what to do, we do it without question. I don’t know the cause for the newest change, but my guess is that it made the SERPS too long, especially for the mobile users.

So how do you write meta descriptions

The meta description is hidden, it’s not something that’s showing on your content page. If you aren’t writing meta descriptions, it may be because you don’t know how. Essentially, it’s a piece of code that looks like this;

<meta name=”description” content=”Find out how to get the best results for your online presence with these great tools.”>

If your website is made up of HTML pages, then you would put that in your <head> section.

If you’re using WordPress, then there are a lot of tools for this. A lot of themes come boxes for adding your meta data. We use the Yoast plugin on all our sites, which has a built in spot for writing your snippets that will help you limit to the right length and plan your meta data appropriately.

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Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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