How Long Should Your Meta Description Be? (2018 Edition)
A meta description can be of any length but Google now cuts short snippets to 300 characters – they increased the limit in the year 2017. Therefore, it is advisable that you keep your meta descriptions long enough so that they are sufficiently descriptive – develop descriptions between 50 and 300 characters. Always, remember that the optimal length varies depending on your particular situation. Your main goal should to offer value by driving more clicks.
The optimal format
Even though meta descriptions are not tied to the search engines rankings, they are important for people who want to gain internet user click-through from SERPs. The short paragraphs are a great opportunity for the webmaster to advertise content to the searchers. It also helps the searchers to decide whether or not your content is relevant and has the information they are looking for.
Your webpage’s meta description should read in a natural, active and non-spammy way. Employ the keywords that you are targeting with your pages and create compelling descriptions that searchers will click. Apart from being relevant to the webpage it describes, the meta description should be unique from the other pages’ descriptions.
Google’s ranking factor
On September 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords do not factor into their ranking algorithm for searches. However, meta descriptions can highly affect the click-through-rate of your pages on the search engine, which positively affects the ability of a page to rank. For that reason, it is important that you dedicate some of your time to meta descriptions.
When you should not write meta descriptions
If your webpage is targeting between two to three highly searched phrases and terms, write a meta description that targets the users including the terms in their search queries. But if the webpage is targeting long-tail traffic, more than three keywords, let the search engines populate the meta description themselves. Why? When a search engine pulls together the meta description, it will always display the keywords in addition to the surrounding phrases the user is looking for. Whenever you write a meta description into your webpage’s code, what you choose to write can detract from the relevancy search engines make naturally, depending on the user’s query.
Before omitting the meta description, you should remember that most social sharing sites such as Facebook, display the meta description on their pages when someone shares your page on their site. Without the description, the social sharing sites will use any text appearing at the top of your page. Therefore, you might fail to create a good user experience to individuals encountering your website content through social media sites.
Search engines might not use your meta description
In most cases, search engines will overrule the meta descriptions you have specified in your webpage’s HTML. That happens when the search engines think that the meta description does not provide an adequate answer to the user’s query and identifies snippets from your target page that matches the query.
Lastly, you should never use double quotation marks on the meta description. If that happens, Google will cut off the description at the quotation mark each time it appears on SERP. Remove every non-alphanumeric character from your meta descriptions. If the quotation marks are important, use HTML entity instead of double quotes.