Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Alan Bleiweiss on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 18, 2018).

NEWS: Don`t go writing longer meta descriptions unless you do deep analysis

Posting this to the group, rather than as a response to a question posed by Chase Reiner Seo yesterday.

Chase had posted regarding the expansion of longer Meta Descriptions since Google has increased the amount of text they`re starting to show in search results.

I and some others have been of the belief that it`s never wise to jump on the Google bandwagon as soon as some change appears to have taken place. And as I stated previously, in the case of these longer descriptions, Google dynamically generates their own text when their system formulaically "thinks" the one provided by the site is not ideal for a given query.

Today we now have Google`s Danny Sullivan essentially confirming what I believe about this, as Barry Schwartz also stated in his post about the topic.

- Don`t go writing longer meta descriptions unless you take the time to do deep analysis. Google dynamically adds more text from a combination of sources, they don`t just take your longer description text and use that.

So while it MAY be possible they MIGHT use more text you write, it is likely they will continue to pull text of THEIR choosing. So to me, that means writing longer meta descriptions is a wasted effort without that deeper effort.



Yes. It`s not your imagination. Our snippets on Google have gotten slightly longer. And agree with @rustybrick -- don`t go expanding your meta description tags. It`s more a dynamic process.

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Micah Fisher-Kirshner: If they think it isn`t ideal, then writing one that is implies they`ll use it, no? :)
  • David Harry: hmmmmm Well, given that Google only adds what they feel some 30% of the time (according to recent research by Dr Pete at least) - there can still be a case for it at times. And certainly I am still seeing some client snippets with the shorter ones. Given that we have position 2 and 3 on this head term for this industry, I added longer ones and we pushed the #4 guy below the fold (in standard resolutions) - so as with all things - `it depends` and can be a case-by-case basis. Ya know? Always work `SERP-out` and establish what`s actually going on. I ain`t gonna do what Danny/Barry tell me lol. Going to use my own judgement ;)
  • David Harry: In short, Google doesn`t ALWAYS add their own wording to expand on the snippet... go to the SERP and see what`s going on in that query space for your own listings
  • Steve Gerencser: You want to know a dirty little secret? For larger eCommerce sites we rarely write meta descriptions anyway. I tested this for more than 2 years on a few fairly large sites and there was statistically no difference between the rankings and the click throughs and the conversions. On smaller sites, or sites with unique products this is a different story, but sites with stacks of generic products? Not any difference that I could find.
  • Alan Bleiweiss: Micah, David, I think this is a multi-faceted issue though. MOST who do SEO don`t have the advanced level, so there are probably FIFTY other things they need to be doing with their time MORE important than lengthening Meta Descriptions. Then there`s the fact that pages don`t just show up for ONE query when done even half-properly. I`ve seen many cases where Google leaves the Title and Description alone for some queries, and changes it for others for the same exact page. So it`s NOT, in my opinion, worth the time or effort, without GRANULAR research and follow-up evaluations all the way to conversion data.
  • David Harry: Steve Gerencser agreed, the site in question I was talking about is a smaller ecom one. That certainly makes a difference - which is also to your point Alan Bleiweiss - when there are but a few pages/products driving the lion`s share of the revenues, I always have time to tweak things. So again, it`s situational and I just don`t like a catch-all statement ya know? luv ya babe!!
  • Barry Schwartz: To be clear, they did later give their "go head" to make your meta descriptions longer https://www.seroundtable.com/google-longer-meta-descriptions-24912.html
  • David Harry: Oh I hear that Barry Schwartz - I just wanted to intimate that it`s situational, as with all things in our world hehe
  • Micah Fisher-Kirshner: And that`s where I think the crucial point needs to be made Alan Bleiweiss that it should be prioritized and recognized that changing them may not be the most impacting given that Google doesn`t always use it, not that one shouldn`t do it. It would be the equivalent of saying to never write a meta description in the same vein based on your initial post.
  • Alan Bleiweiss: Agreed on the situational aspect. And that people can, if they want to. I just still think it`s a waste of time unless the proper deep analysis is done and that it is mostly a shiny object otherwise.
  • Jenny Halasz: In my opinion (OPINION), I think this test will fail. I don`t think users want longer descriptions, especially on mobile, and I think this test will roll back. So I`m not spending any time lengthening descriptions, but rather, using The KICC Method (shameless plug) to better optimize the ones I already have. https://www.slideshare.net/jennyhalasz/this-aint-your-mommas-keyword-research
  • Alan Bleiweiss: Micah, David, Barry... I just edited my post here to better reflect the nuance.
  • Doc Sheldon: I`ve been making use of the additional length on NEW pages, but have only reworked a handful of existing descriptions, where they needed improvement. But on the longer descriptions, I`m rewriting them in a manner that if they ever roll this back, there`s still a decent description in the truncated version. I agree that for a large site that has hundreds, thousands or more of existing descriptions, it would likely be unwise to dedicate a lot of effort to something that might end up being temporary.
  • Barry Schwartz: I cant remember the last time I wrote a meta description by hand.
  • Christopher Fleming: I just can`t get away from that guy! 😕
  • Adam John Humphreys: Depends how relevant to the query most likely the description is.
  • Faith Dugan: Alan Bleiweiss I think googles ultimate goal is to feed google`s AI until it is evolved enough and doesnt need us..or like that.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 18, 2018).

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