One of the questions that I’ve dealt with a lot especially with companies that I have done work with online is, about Google Title And Description Character Length on a website; i.e. the <title>. Also, what is the maximum character length of the meta-descriptions on the Google snippets.
What are Google snippets
Some reading this may think, “okay what is a Google snippet?”
I never really thought myself to call it a snippet until I did research into the subject but that’s actually what it is just like your Facebook posts, it gives you a snippet of the content that you’re sharing, so does Google.
Below you’ll see a video of the man himself Mr. Matt Cutts being asked about snippets and how they work and how they’re constructed by Google.
The information is quite surprising considering that Google leaves it to you to modify and create your snippets and how they’re going to look. If you don’t do your diligence though Google will do it for you.
The more information you give us, the better your search result snippet can be. With rich snippets, webmasters with sites containing structured content—such as review sites or business listings—can label their content to make it clear that each labeled piece of text represents a certain type of data: for example, a restaurant name, an address, or a rating. Learn more about how rich snippets can improve your site’s listing in search results.
But the main point of this article is not just to discuss snippets. The goal is to answer the question
“How many characters can I have in my meta-title of my website and how many characters can I have in my meta-description for my webpages that Google will show in the snippet of the search results?”
And the answer is… are you ready for it?
Not 55, not 65, not 70 but actually somewhere in between. But the most I’ve seen surprisingly has been 67 to 70 characters. That’s after reviewing several search results of random things I googled and manually counting the title tags myself. You also have to consider mobile devices. With smaller screen sizes, you can’t fit as many characters. So plan for less real-estate to title your pages if you are thinking mobile first.
The mysterious “…”
I started noticing that Google will add a “…” at the end of a title or description in different places.
So I thought to myself why does Google do that? Then I realized after reviewing the video that Matt Cutts discusses it’s Google trying to help you have the best titles and descriptions possible.
It depends upon the quality of the description or the title for where the “…” shows and the character length that appears.
We use many signals to decide which title to show to users, primarily the <title> tag if the webmaster specified one. But for some pages, a single title might not be the best one to show for all queries, and so we have algorithms that generate alternative titles to make it easier for our users to recognize relevant pages.
See it’s not a math game you’re playing with Google like you would with Twitter.
Google doesn’t work the way Twitter does. Twitter intentionally limits how many characters you type in as long as you’re under the max length of 140. Google meta descriptions are now 230+ characters as of late 2017.
More importantly though Google cares about your pages content. It matters how it’s presented to be useful to the user to best describe what it is they’re about to click on. Again it’s all about the user, not your SEO’ers opinion or consultant. Content is king.
Beating Google at their own game.
The thing is it’s not a game, it’s about users finding information, and Google understands this. So Google actually helps you write better titles even if you tell Google you want a specific title.
It will still try to do something to help you. Whether your title tag is 65 characters, 55 characters, or 70 characters Google will still append the “…” at the appropriate place that it feels is best to still describe what is the best title of the particular article that the users are about to click on and visit and read.
Grammar, syntax, and spelling oh my…
Google is probably better at grammar than most of us, but from a user perspective. That’s another reason why the string of dots appear in different places because its trying to make the best sense out of what is there and make it sensible. If you are writing for users with Phd’s great. But most users don’t have a Phd so keep it simple.
Just like writing a paper for your fifth grade grammar teacher. Your title should be easy to read, easily understood, and short and sweet.
Matt Cutts Discusses Snippets