Meta description lengths are decreasing again. It was only a few months ago that we were telling you about the increase in character length for meta descriptions, and here we are now telling you that Google has announced they will be shortened to their former length (between 150 and 170 characters). Google really calls the shots when it comes to setting these character limits, and unlike the increase in character limits for meta descriptions, a decrease means that website owners will be forced to rewrite descriptions in order that they are not cut short. But how important are optimised meta descriptions anyway?
What are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions are a small piece of HTML code text contained within a website. They appear on search engine results pages to describe what is on the page listed.
The description should provide a clear and precise overview of what is on that page, giving searchers a reason to click your page. Ideally, you would have a unique meta description for each of your pages, though for large ecommerce websites selling thousands of products this can be a challenge.
Why should I shorten my meta descriptions?
Meta descriptions longer than the new, shorter length will be truncated, which means that some of your information will be invisible on the SERP.
Adjusting the length of your meta descriptions in line with Google’s recommendations will involve determining which information to prioritise to feature in the description in order to give the most accurate representation of the information on the page. Although meta descriptions do not have a direct impact on SEO, a good quality description will encourage more people to click on your link over your competitors. This means that, though you may rank lower than your competitors for whatever reason, a well-written meta description can actually increase your click-through-rates.
What makes a good meta description?
A good meta description will prioritise the most important information on that page, and display it in a clear and concise manner, giving potential customers a reason to click on your link. The four most important elements of an effective meta description are:
- An accurate description of the contents of the page
- Details of what makes your page unique. This might be price or delivery for product pages.
- A strong call to action.
- Unique for each page of a website.
If you need help updating your meta descriptions according to Google’s new character limits, or for other Search Engine Optimisation guidance, contact us on 01603 343477 and we will be happy to discuss how we can help.