Meta Descriptions: how to write a meta description of ideal length?

How to write a good meta description? Confused about the ideal meta description length? Find out why you'll need to write a good meta description, and how. See the logic behind different lengths of meta descriptions. Explore what the geeks are saying. Writing an ideal meta description is not that tough!

The length of an ideal meta description can easily be considered one of the most disputed topics. We can see a real vast range of experiments with meta descriptions around - long ones measuring up to nearly four hundred characters to make room for all of your keywords, short ones keeping within the length beyond which Google crops meta descriptions, run on sentences, keyword stuffed versions, or wild attempts to draw the readers' attention. It is pretty confusing, and even some of the leading search engine optimization experts or websites do not make a harmony. God knows how I tried with almost all the types of meta description tags I listed above!

Still, trying out everything like an idiot has some advantage. You can at least know which things really work and to what extent. Here is a gist of what I learned trying to figure out how to write a good meta description and what can be called an ideal length of meta descriptions. And I came to a somewhat shocking conclusion. There is nothing like an ideal meta description length.

Yes. The length of a good meta description depends on how you are writing it, and what do you want to do with your meta description tag. Let's first see why on earth you need a meta description tag.

What's the need of a meta description tag?

Most search engines like Google show a snippet with their search results. If you provide them with a meta description tag, search engines may (yes, no assurance) show your meta description tag as the snippet instead of some random text from your article that might turn out not so user friendly. So, meta descriptions do have an impact on your search engine optimization. If you have your main keywords a few times in your meta description, chances are high that Google and other search engines will show it as the snippet. However, if you stuff with your meta description with keywords only and write useless sentences that convey nothing to your readers, that is not going to work in the longer run. You can cheat Google and other search engines for a short period of time and get ranked well, but rest assured, the fall is not far.

Here is an example of a typically bad meta description for this article.

Meta description tag

Write your meta descriptions for your visitors

Being on the run of getting ranked in Google and other search engines, we often forget a key thing. What next, once you are ranked in the SERP? It is equally important to turn or translate your good ranking into good traffics. Remember, there are other results on the SERP also, and being at #1 or #2 doesn't mean cent percent traffic. The reader decides whether to visit your website or a competing website by taking a look at the title and the snippet (which is mostly the meta description). Experiment to learn how to write a good meta description for your target audience. Figure out what kind of language they use. There is no thumb rule, because the target audiences for a scholarly website and a hard metal fan site are not going to love the same styles. Only you know what is your website all about. Therefore, only you can write the best meta description for it.

So, what is the ideal meta description length?

As we have seen so far, while writing a good meta description you should target your readers as much as the search engines. The ideal length of a meta description for your article is just that, which enables you to do both, and do equally well. Do not write a keyword stuffed meta description with poor languages. Do not forget all about keywords either, and like something like if you visit my site, I will be very happy, so please visit, I beg you! If you have no keyword at all in your meta description, search engines will possibly show a part of your article as the snippet rather than the meta description. You need to go for both the reader and the search engine. Let's see what is your character limits for meta descriptions for doing so.

Google crops beyond 155 characters -

Yes. Google crops anything beyond it and shows ellipsis (three dots). If you are smart enough to put all your main keywords within this limit, and still make it catchy and user friendly, there's nothing like keeping within this. Brevity is always the essence, and most search engine optimization websites suggest this too. SEOMoz wants you to stay within 155, and SEOCentro doesn't say anything but doesn't rate longer meta descriptions well either.

More characters can provide more room -

Google or any other search engines nowhere mentioned that they need to show the meta description exactly as it is. It is very likely that they can show the first and the third sentence of your meta description, by ignoring the second one altogether. Since cropped meta descriptions do not make the greatest impact on your potential readers, you can follow a cool meta description writing tip. If you go for longer meta descriptions, try to mould your sentences in such a way that the sum of the characters in any two sentences, including space, is less than Google's limit. You can afford to have slightly bigger meta descriptions thus, without being cropped out. But this needs a lot of experimenting, and if you are a busy article writer you may not always have the time and energy to sit and count every character in your meta description tag.

An example of good meta description

Well, it may not be the best, but you can find this handy enough. Take a look at the summary of this article itself. Notice the few things -

1. The first three sentences make exactly 155 characters and can be considered a complete snippet even if you take it out. Even if you take the last three sentences, it is within the limit.

2. Together it is 305. That's a handy length. Nowadays everyone knows about the importance of the social media. Websites like Facebook or Digg allow longer snippets so you can make good use of this.

3. Only if you count from second to fourth sentence, it exceeds the limit. It will still show up to a point which makes sense. In that case it will be like this -

Confused about the ideal meta description length? Find out why you'll need to write a good meta description, and how. See the logic behind different lengths (...)

Avoid the pitfalls of longer meta descriptions

You can thus have nearly four hundred characters in your meta description which can usually be considered the maximum length of a meta description. Nevertheless, longer characters may spoil the style of your meta description and bore your potential readers. Longer meta descriptions, if not well written, run the risk of being tagged as spam. If you are not sure what you are doing, try a shorter meta description.

Now that you know how to write good meta descriptions and what are the ideal lengths of meta descriptions, go experiment! Write them wisely!


Guest Author: j.suhas11 Mar 2012

Sir, it's illuminating ,showing me window to look through the great sunlight of communication and expression of my views with the viewers and get feedback in turn to know their side to perceive the same.
thanking you. yeh! i will start writing my emotions.

Guest Author: 30 Mar 2012

Mr. Suhas, thanks for stopping by. Pardon my ignorance, I felt your language to be pretty poetic and flowery but I simply could not make out what you are trying to convey. Could you please say that once more in layman's language?

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