Are you stuck on writing your meta descriptions for your website? We break it down for you right here.

What Is a Meta Description?

Meta descriptions are the brief pieces of text that appear as part of a result on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They should describe what the page (or blog post, or news article) is about in one or two short sentences, giving users an idea of what to expect when they click through to the website.

They are an important part of how your site displays in the SERPs and, if written well, can dramatically increase click through rate to your site. Moz states the optimal length of a meta description to be between 150 – 160 characters, and most SEOs tend to agree that the optimal length of a meta description is around 155 characters to ensure full display in the SERPs. But, like page titles, meta descriptions are limited by pixel width rather than character count, but 155 characters is usually very close.

You might also notice that if you follow the 155 character rule for blog/news articles, your meta descriptions are still being truncated…

example of how long should a meta description be

Shorter Meta Descriptions for Blog Posts/News Articles?

If you are writing a blog post or a news article – or anything with a date attached to it, the date stamp will be included in the pixel limit of the meta description. Therefore, SEO best practices for blog posts/news articles require a meta description of closer to 142 characters to ensure full display in the SERPs.

How Long Can your Meta Description REALLY Be?

Meta descriptions are not always displayed in SERPs, and search engines will often pull through sections of the page content that are more closely related to your search term. It is more common for this to occur when performing long-tail searches. It is interesting to note the length of some of the meta descriptions that are automatically pulled through by search engines:

example of a meta description

The length of this meta description that was pulled through by Google is 329 characters (including the date) – more than double that of a regular meta description!

Test and Optimise your Meta Descriptions and SERP Appearance

There is no way of knowing exactly what Google will for your meta description at all times, but you should give your meta description every chance of appearing just the way you’d like it to by optimising it with SEO Mofo’s SERP Snippet Optimization Tool.

seomofo
With this tool you can test the display of your meta descriptions and add a date stamp if required. While you’re testing the the length of your meta descriptions here, you should also check your page title lengths!

You now have no excuse for those truncated page titles and meta descriptions!