For SEOs, its rare to see best practices remain the same year over year. Desktop title tag and meta description best practices have somewhat remained steady over the past five years. Not anymore! We’re seeing that Google is starting to decrease the number of characters being shown in desktop SERPs, preparing for the convergence of the desktop and mobile experience. Back in January, SwellPath’s SEO Team Manager, Mike Arnesen, wrote a post on Optimizing Mobile Page Title and Meta Description Length, and we’re seeing these character limit recommendations for mobile also be true for desktop.
Based on what we’re seeing in Google SERPs, title tag and meta description character limits have decreased 21% and 23%, respectively. You now have 55 characters (including spaces) for title tags and 115 characters (including spaces) for meta descriptions. Please note, these are estimates based on what we are seeing. To my knowledge, there is not a hard and fast rule yet on an exact cutoff. Google likes to test these things. =)
Old Metadata Character Limits
- Title Tags = 70 characters
- Meta Description = 150 characters
New Google Metadata Character Limits
- Title Tags = 55 characters
- Meta Description = 115 characters
If you haven’t already, checkout the title tag preview tool on Moz’s blog, it will show you exactly how your old 70 character title tag will get cutoff.
You can see in the below examples how Google is cutting off the titles and meta descriptions. In this example, I searched for “Portland digital marketing agency” and only one title tag isn’t being cut off. The SwellPath site is guilty of this too, looks like we’ve been busy implementing these changes on clients sites.
The common theme we’ve been hearing for the past few years is “everything is going mobile” and it is here. So, it’s time to wipe the dust off those title tags and meta descriptions you wrote a year ago when your site relaunched and optimize them for the new character limits. Block out your calendar this next Friday and make it a fun SEO day. A client of mine calls it SEO Fun Friday! (Sounds like a lot of fun to us! We’re serious!)