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Meta Description - Beyond 155 - Still Alive?


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44 replies to this topic

#31 FrenchDirectory

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 06:54 AM

I think when the field is empty. Google is chosen which describes a piece of content located on the page.

#32 bggb33

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 03:25 PM

Hi Jill,

So getting back to the initial posts of this thread, can you confirm what "bobmeetin" stated: that Google will index up to 95 characters of the meta title tag, but only display up to 70"?

Also, I wanted to make sure I'm understanding you correctly on the meta description tag information. It would be useful to type in as many relevant words as you want in the description tag? Google will index all those words and display whatever words from the description match what the searcher types in? If this is true, it makes it sound like there is no limit to the text that Google will display in the SERPs.

I was surprised by this because there are other postings on other blogs indicating that Google will only display 150-160 characters for the meta description tag data.

I hope this makes sense and I am understanding everything correctly.

Thanks.

#33 bggb33

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:24 AM

QUOTE(bobmeetin @ Nov 10 2009, 10:18 AM) View Post
This is curious, Jill. So say I have a page that has been set up for three key phrases (could be 10 for that matter if the title allowed enough characters). In the description I add three relevant sentences, say about 150 characters each, knowing that Google displays that many or so.

You're suggesting that googling phrase 1 will return the relevant phrase 1 snippet, googling phrase 2 will return the phrase 2 snippet, etc? That's actually pretty smart. You've seen this?

Not that it would make much, any, SEO sense to do it, but that could literally justify setting up a meta description of ten sentences of 150 characters each to support a page title with 10 key phrases.

Jill,
This makes sense, but I have two questions:

1. I thought Jill was saying that Google can display even more than the 150 characters (200 words even). So why would you have to limit each phrase to the 150?

2. Why would it not make SEO sense to do this?

#34 Jill

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 01:00 PM

Google will only display a certain amount of characters (no idea what it is) BUT...they will pull it from wherever they find the keyword phrase that the searcher used.

So say you had 2 sentences for your Meta description and one of them used one keyword phrase and the other used another keyword phrase. It's likely that Google would pull the sentence (or a part of it) that had the keyword phrase that closely matched the searcher's query words.

Sometimes Google even takes part of the Meta description and then also part of the words on the page and mashes them together as your description in the search engine results page.

Hope this helps!



#35 Scottie

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 05:36 PM

Probably not a helpful comment, but I haven't bothered with meta descriptions since maybe 2003/2004 for my own sites. Nor meta keywords. I haven't installed modules or add-ons that add meta anything on the various software I use to build sites.

Hasn't seemed to hurt anything...

While I understand that when you are actively optimizing something you want to do every little thing that might give you an edge (and I still do them for clients because they like to see them) I really don't think meta tags have any affect on search rankings. They might have some small affect on search result displays, but honestly, I feel my time is better spent focusing on other parts of a site.

Just my penny.gif

#36 Ron Carnell

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 06:26 PM

QUOTE
I really don't think meta tags have any affect on search rankings.

Of course they don't, Scotty. None, nada, zilch.

But look at it this way. If you were spending $10K a month on AdWords, would you really let Google write the ad copy for you? The best search rankings in the world are absolutely meaningless if no one clicks on your link. Or, worse, the wrong people are clicking on it. That snippet is the first step towards conversion.

A properly contrived and well written snippet (that's two different things, btw) can do just as much good for a web site as a brilliant ad campaign can.


#37 Jill

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 08:56 AM

QUOTE
A properly contrived and well written snippet (that's two different things, btw) can do just as much good for a web site as a brilliant ad campaign can.


I have found, however, that if you have professionally written keyword-rich copy, it serves the same purpose as a meta description.

In fact, I usually end up just copying and pasting one or two sentences from the well-written copy and put it in the meta description field. Which I believe is probably an unnecessary step, but since the Google does seem to index words in there, I figure it can't hurt.

#38 Ron Carnell

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 11:08 AM

QUOTE
I have found, however, that if you have professionally written keyword-rich copy, it serves the same purpose as a meta description.

I think that's going to depend on your copy, Jill. Generally, however, the copy describing a product/service (which is ostensibly what you have on the page) isn't going to be the same as your call-to-action copy for that same product/service. Usually, they serve two different purposes? Karon, of course, knows more about that than I do, though.

Personally, I would never recommend slapping up an AdWords campaign without at least a little serious a/b testing. I think the organic snippet is equally important. Not necessarily for every page in the index, but certainly for the important ones.

(And it's largely an untapped market. smile.gif )

#39 Jill

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 11:42 AM

QUOTE(Ron Carnell @ Apr 10 2010, 12:08 PM) View Post
Personally, I would never recommend slapping up an AdWords campaign without at least a little serious a/b testing. I think the organic snippet is equally important. Not necessarily for every page in the index, but certainly for the important ones.

(And it's largely an untapped market. smile.gif )


Agree. I think that's a great idea. But I think I'd also classify it as more of an advanced tactic to do once you've got your basics in order.

Since most never even get the basics done, it's hard to justify the time for something like you suggest. But I definitely think it would be a great thing to do and test. I've had it on my list of things for our site, in fact, for the past couple of years now. Just haven't gotten around to it yet in any large scale way.

#40 qwerty

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 12:04 PM

One of the standard steps in my service used to be to assign keywords to a given page (or recommend the creation of a new page for certain keywords) and recommend a title and meta description. About half a year ago I made the meta description more of an optional part of that process, since the time it took to write it added to the cost of the process. I can recommend a description, or I can give the client tips on how to write a good one themselves based on the page's keyword phrases. Once they've written it, I can come in more as an editor than a writer, as I usually do with clients who write their own on-page content.

I still think it's an important thing to have for the reasons Ron has given, but not so important that I absolutely insist on doing it myself no matter what the client's budget is.

#41 Scottie

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 03:46 PM

Maybe I'll go back and add some meta descriptions and see what the result is... I haven't bothered to in ages but it can't hurt to do some testing. smile.gif

#42 SEONoobie

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:46 AM

This is good stuff for all website owners to realize. If you stick to the 155 or 160 rule like many do you could be missing out on some really great opportunities as far as search traffic.

#43 copywriter

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 03:12 PM

I was searching through threads for info about descriptions tags for Bing and Yahoo when I found this thread. Excellent stuff. Shout out to you, Ron! smile.gif

Most of the talk has been about Google with the exception of Randy's comments about PDFs. Does this descrip tag info apply to Bing/Yahoo? Or has anybody tested those?

Jill, can I use your nifty description idea in my new book if I give you credit? shades.gif

#44 Jill

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 07:42 AM

I don't recall what the nifty idea is, but of course you can credit me with it in your book!

#45 copywriter

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 07:51 AM

To write several sentences in the description tag: one for each keyphrase represented on the page.






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