How long should the meta description be?

The meta description (SEO description, meta description tag) serves as a brief description of the content of a website for search engines. It is either defined by the website operator or generated dynamically by Google.

Usually, the meta description is defined by the website operator to promote interest in the page or even to include a call-to-action (CTA). This motivates users to click on the displayed URL. Together with the page URL and the meta title, they make up the so-called “SERP snippet”.

The SERP snippet of your website is what users see first in the search engines. In this way, the meta description is one of the first points of visibility and contact for your visitors as soon as they find your website in the search engine results:

A search result in the Google search results. The meta description has been highlighted here.

What are the benefits of optimising the meta description?

The aim of optimising the meta description is to improve the click-through rate (CTR) and increase the number of visitors to a website. Both can in turn have a positive effect on the search engine ranking of a website. It is therefore an important HTML meta tag in search engine optimisation. Unlike the title tag, however, it is not an explicit ranking factor.

Where is the meta description set?

The meta description is defined in the <head> area of an HTML document with:

<meta name="description" content="The content of the meta description is defined here." />

How long should a meta description be?

The length of the meta description should be limited to 580 pixels (including spaces), otherwise Google will simply abbreviate it with “…”.

Therefore, the recommended length is usually only 150 to 155 characters. With this length, you can be sure that your meta description will be displayed in full in your SERP snippet. Note that the current date also takes up a few characters – provided one is integrated into your snippet.

If Google shortens your meta description (““), this will not necessarily have a negative effect on your ranking. The description will simply no longer be displayed in full and will no longer appear as attractive and click-worthy to search engine users in its shortened form.