What are the NEW guidelines for Meta Description lengths?
 by Kristi Hagen

What are the NEW guidelines for Meta Description lengths?

  • We're feeling a lot of internal pressure to change our position on meta description length. Forces within our agency want to recommend expanding the character count of all meta description tags.

    A couple of our more experienced SEOs are reluctant to make widespread changes for our clients. Not only have they heard conflicting reports but they're also concerned that Google might change their mind, as they have been known to do in the past.

    Can you please shed some light on the best advice for meta description length?

Answer:

Great question!... And we are happy to provide some clarity. Below is a response by Google's John Mueller given on Dec 12th when asked about the new meta description length. This video launches at the beginning of the discussion (21:49) and the relevant topic ends after about 7mins at 36:35.

Here's a synopsis of what was said; the meta description tag...

  • is not factored into the ranking algorithm.
  • can affect the way that users see your site in the search results and whether or not they actually click through to your site.
  • will be displayed in the search results based on user intent, which is determined by Google's algorithm. As such, you can expect it will change from user to user based on whatever user intent is inferred.
  • should not be constrained to any particular character count.

In the video John says,

One of the things we've been experimenting with is showing longer descriptions in the search results... So, for the descriptions that we show we try to focus on the meta description that you provide on your pages but if we need more information or more context based on the user's query, perhaps then we can take some parts of the page as well. Essentially from a purely technical point of view these descriptions aren't a ranking factor.

So it's not the case that ...

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