One of the most important SEO elements for any webpage or blog post is the Meta Description. If you’re not familiar with the Meta Description, it’s a tag that’s added into the HTML (code) of your website that lets the search engine crawler know what your page is about. It also displays in the search results, helping potential visitors understand your page and determine if it’s the right one for their query. The Meta Description is directly below the URL in the example below. It reads, "Etched Marketing is a content marketing agency in Phoenix, AZ. Providing content strategy, development, distribution, and measurement to drive business." This Meta Description meets the old best practice recommendation and is under 160 characters.
For years, we’ve recommended keeping Meta Descriptions under 160 characters to avoid truncation now; Google appears to be changing the length of the Meta Description they’re displaying in the Search Engine Results.
A recent study from Moz (one of my favorites, a trusted SEO industry resource for professional SEOs) found that up to 375 characters are showing in the results as of late November 2017. You can read the in-depth study information on the Moz Blog which is linked below. They reviewed 10,000 #1 position keywords across all sorts of industries to see what was working.
The updated recommendation from Moz is to use up to 300 characters for your Meta Description. It’s not a guarantee that Google will display exactly what you’ve marked as the Meta Description but in the majority of cases, they do. In some instances, we’ve seen them append Meta Descriptions to add more information when they felt the description was too short. We’ve also seen them truncate Metas and that appears to have no bearing on rankings.
Now, don’t just write 300 characters and wait for your website or blog to rank #1. SEO doesn’t work that way. But, it’s a good time to do a review/refresh on your website and see which Meta Descriptions could use a little more information. Update them, add a call-to-action, add relevant information you may have edited out before but be careful not to tell everything or you won’t give people a reason to click and read your page.
For more information on SEO or the importance of Meta Descriptions, read more on The Etched Blog.