Tagged: Reputation Legal

The legal side of Reputation Management

Mozzy Good Wishes to You & Yours! 0

Posted by FeliciaCrawford

As the long holiday weekend draws to a close and we prepare to welcome a brand-new year, we at Moz just want to thank you all for a wonderful, fulfilling year on the blog. Your colorful commentary, delightful debates, thrilling thumbs-up, and vivacious visits have made the past twelve months sparkle and shine (and with that, I’ll bid the alliteration adieu).

Our “card” features a cameo from a little Moz Dog you may recognize: the inimitable Lettie Pickles!

At the Moz HQ, we practice a multitude of holiday traditions. Whether it’s Mozzers gathering in the common room (affectionately named “Roger”) to light candles on the menorah during Hanukkah, trading and stealing gifts for the company-wide White Elephant exchange (someone won a bonafide Commodore 64 this year!), or getting our boogie and our board gaming on at the Moz holiday party, we try to honor this special season with a healthy mix of reverence and good old-fashioned fun.

The folks who come to our blog for digital marketing advice hail from almost every remote corner of the world (we know; we looked at our analytics ;). This week, when things tend to slow down and it’s just a little more difficult than usual to get anyone to reply to your emails, we’d love to invite you to share your own unique tales and traditions in the comments. What’s your favorite way to celebrate, in the office and at home? What mishaps and magical moments alike filled your days, and what’s your resolution for 2018? Let’s take a little breather as we gear up for all the new projects and responsibilities awaiting us just around the corner and share with each other; after all, that’s what being a community is all about! 🙂

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Source: Moz

3 Creative Ways to Give Your Content Efforts a Boost – Whiteboard Friday 0

Posted by randfish

We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. In this extra-special holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts

3 way to give your content efforts a boost

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special Christmas edition of Whitebeard Friday. This week, I wanted to try and help with just a few tactical suggestions on some creative ways to pump up those content marketing campaigns.

I’ve seen that many, many folks in the SEO world, of course, naturally, are investing in content marketing because content is the path to links and amplification and search traffic. Sometimes those content campaigns can feel a little stale or repetitive. So I have some creative ideas, things that I’ve seen some people executing on that I think we might be able to leverage for some of our work.

1. Niche groups

First one, if you can identify in your community these sort of small but vocal niche groups that are . . . when I say your community, it doesn’t have to be people you already reach. It can be people inside the community of content generation and of topical interest around your subject matter. Then help them to amplify their voices or their causes or their pet projects, etc.

So I’ll use the example of being in the foodie and gourmand world. So here’s a bunch of foodies. But this particular tiny group is extremely passionate about food trucks, and, in particular, they really hate the laws that restrict food truck growth, that a lot of cities don’t allow food trucks to be in certain spaces. They have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed. They are not permitted to be permanently in a place for a whole week. Whatever it is, whatever those legal restrictions are. So by serving this small group, you might think that content is way too niche.

The wonderful part is that content is the kind that gets amplified very loudly, very repetitively, that can help you earn links and traffic to this small community. If that community is small and loud and feels like their voices aren’t being heard elsewhere, you can build some great brand advocacy inside that group as well. By the way, I would urge you to be authentic, choose causes that you or your company also care about. Don’t just pick something at random.

2. Products and services

Second, if you can, try and seek out products and services that your audience uses or needs, but that doesn’t actually directly conflict with your business. Then create a resource that lists or rates or ranks and recommends those top choices. We’ve actually done this a few times at Moz. I have this recommended list of agency and consultant providers, but Moz does not compete with any of those. But it’s a helpful list. As a result of listing those folks and having this sort of process around it, many of those people are pumping up that content.

Now here’s another example. Foodie Moz, Foodie Moz sounds like a great domain. I should go register that right after this hat stops hitting me in the back of the head. I don’t know how Santa deals with that. So Foodie Moz presents the best cookbooks of 2017. Now, Foodie Moz might be in the food and recipe world. But it turns out, the wonderful part is cookbooks are something that is used by their audience but not directly conflicting with them.

Since it’s not self-promotional, but it is useful to your audience, the likelihood that you can earn links and amplification because you seem like a non-self-interested party is much greater. You’re providing value without asking anything in return. It’s not like anyone buying these cookbooks would help you. It’s not like you have some ulterior motive in ranking this one number one or that one number two. You’re merely putting together an unbiased set of resources that help your audience. That is a great way to get a piece of content to do well.

3. Content creators

Third, last but not least here, if you can, find content creators who have been very successful. You can recruit them, the people who have had hit pieces, to create content for your brand. In a lot of ways, this is like cheating. It’s almost like buying links, except instead of buying the links, you’re buying the time and energy of the person who creates content that you have high likelihood or high propensity for being successful in that content niche with what they create because of their past track record and the audience they’ve already built.

Pro-tip here. Journalists and media contributors, even contributors to online media, like a BuzzFeed or something like that, are great targets. Why? Well, because they’re usually poorly paid and they are desperate to build a portfolio of professional work. Some of these folks are insanely talented, and they already have networks of people who have liked their work in the past and have helped amplify them.

So if you can use a tool like BuzzSumo — that would be generally what I’d recommend, there’s a few others, but BuzzSumo is really great for this — you can search for, for example, recipes and see the most shared content in the recipe world in, say, the last three months. Then we can identify, “Oh, here we go. This person wrote the hardest recipe challenge gifts. Oh, all right. That did really, really well. I wonder if we can see who that is. Oh look, she does freelance work. I bet she can write for us.”

It’s like cheating. It’s a great hack. It’s a great to way to recruit someone who you know is likely to have a great shot at their work doing well, give them the freedom to write what they want, to create what they want, and then host it on your site. A great way to do content creation, for a decent price, that has a high likelihood of solid amplification.

All right, everyone, look forward to some of your thoughts and tactics. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas from all of us at Moz. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, happy belated Hanukkah. I know that I’m filming this during Hanukkah, but it’s probably after Hanukkah that you’re seeing it. For those of you who are celebrating any other holiday this year, a very happy holiday season to you. We look forward to joining you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Source: Moz

Followerwonk Is Moving On to a New, Loving Home 0

Posted by adamf

We have exciting news to share with you about our Twitter analytics tool, Followerwonk! For a while now we’ve been looking for a new home for the tool. We’re very pleased to announce that Marc Mims, one of the tool’s original developers, formed a company to acquire it and will continue to operate the popular service under the Followerwonk brand.

A little history

In August 2016, we announced our intention to sell Followerwonk. It’s a useful and powerful application, but since acquiring it in 2012, we discovered that the overlap between users of Followerwonk and users of our core SEO products was smaller than we anticipated. To address that problem, in 2015 we offered it as a separate subscription — part of a larger strategy to extend our services beyond SEO. Last year we made some hard choices, ultimately deciding to refocus our efforts on our SEO core. It was then that we decided to seek a better home for our Twitter analytics tool.

Marc and Followerwonk go way back. As an engineer on the team that originally built and launched the tool, he came on board at Moz in 2012 when Moz first acquired it. He spent his first year on the Moz engineering team working on Followerwonk, and then a year working on Open Site Explorer, after which he returned to Followerwonk to help us relaunch it as a standalone product. In August 2016 we put Followerwonk in a holding pattern while we sought a buyer; during this time, Marc stayed on as a contractor to keep it healthy and operational for existing customers.

When Marc made an offer to acquire the product, it was like everything had come full circle; we were delighted to know Followerwonk will continue in good hands. There are only a few buyers in the world who could bring Marc’s knowledge and passion for Followerwonk to the table.

In the months since August 2016, Marc spent his time making improvements and optimizations to the backend. He has quietly deployed 52 releases of Followerwonk in that time, improving performance and stability. He’s excited to be able to start adding new features now, too.

What does this mean for existing customers?

It means you can expect continued service from the product you love and the addition of new features and capabilities in the future. Moz will continue to host Followerwonk during a transition period while Marc prepares it to run on its own infrastructure. During that time, you can continue to use Followerwonk as you always have.

As Marc and Moz work together to transfer the service, Followerwonk customers should not notice much change; most of the work will be happening behind the scenes. Accounts will be transferred securely, and we will communicate directly with customers if any actions are required.

If you have legacy access to Followerwonk as part of your Moz Pro subscription from before its 2015 relaunch as a separate service, you will continue to have uninterrupted access to the tool through the transition period. Near the end of that period, Marc and Moz will jointly make a special offer allowing you to subscribe to Followerwonk and continue using it after the tool has left Moz’s infrastructure.

The transition period should take between three and six months. During that time, you can access the tool through your Moz login at https://moz.com/followerwonk. Afterwards, you’ll find it at https://followerwonk.com.

We’ll be sure to reach out to all customers and those with legacy access to provide more details well before any changes occur.

Final thoughts

In our hearts and minds, this is absolutely the best possible outcome for Followerwonk. It continues in the hands of a strong engineer, a beloved and respected member of the Moz team, an incredibly TAGFEE person, and someone who knows Followerwonk inside and out. Please join us in wishing Marc great success as he builds a team and a business around Followerwonk, giving it the love and attention it richly deserves.


If you’ve got any questions, would like a few more details, or simply wish to congratulate Marc in person, head over to the Q&A post he authored here and join the conversation!

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Source: Moz

Use as Directed: A Content Marketing Plan for Robust Business Performance 0

Posted by Alex-T

The chances that your company invests in a content marketing strategy are very high. Content Marketing Institute revealed that 89% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing, while the money spent on this activity ranges between 26% to 30% of an entire marketing budget.

I believe that spending up to 50% of your overall budget on content marketing needs isn’t too much, if you know how to take advantage of it. Not only will it benefit your brand’s awareness, but it will also help you generate traffic, leads, and sales. My personal experience working with digital businesses has shown that only a few are successful in finding a strategic approach to their content plan. Sadly, most companies practice throwing spaghetti on the wall to see if a piece of content gets any readers.

In this post, you’ll learn how to ensure that every piece of content you create drives traffic, attracts leads, and generates sales. I’ll give you ready-to-use solutions on how you can plan, execute, and measure your content promotion, so that content starts earning your business money.

Disclaimer: If you decide to follow any of my recommendations, make sure to adjust these techniques in accordance to your audience’s interests and your business needs, and test, test, and test again. As we all know, every business is unique, and what’s good for one brand may not be as helpful for another. Remember that blindly following any suggestions and mimicking other brands’ activities may not deliver desirable results.

Numbers don’t lie: Measure how your current content is performing

It’s important to start off your new content marketing campaign by analyzing your current situation. You may discover old content that hasn’t performed well yet, but that has the potential to benefit you with a few changes and a second chance. Working with old content is always a good idea, as the copywriting is already taken care of.

Many marketers don’t understand what’s absolutely required when it comes to measuring a content marketing campaign. Data measurement and analysis can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out.

Here are two steps to take in order to get some meaningful insights:

1. Figure out how your content ranks in Google and whether it brings you traffic and conversions

To get ahold of this data, you’re going to need a combination of tools.

Start with Google Analytics

The “Landing Pages” report in Google Analytics will show how your pages perform according to the number of impressions, clicks, conversions, and the average position of each page in the search results. To view this report in Google Analytics, your Google Search Console needs to be connected with your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t connected it yet, this data can be viewed directly in Google Search Console via the “Search Traffic” > “Search Analytics” report.

The problem with Google, though, is that it doesn’t give you a page’s exact ranking; it only shows your site’s average position. It also requires you to check each page manually, so you can’t see a bigger picture all at once. Using tools — like SEMrush, SpyFu, Searchmetrics, Ahrefs, SERPstat, etc. — will allow you to see more precise data about your content’s rankings. For example, here’s a screenshot of a Google Analytics report showing a list of keywords for which a specific page appears in the SERPs:

And here’s the same data from SEMrush that allows you to filter pages, export the data, and work with it in a spreadsheet:

2. Find content that can be easily improved/edited to begin bringing value

After completing step #1, you’ll have an all-encompassing picture of your content’s past performance. Geared up with the information you’ve uncovered, find those pages that are showing up in the search results and bringing you clicks and conversions, but that aren’t listed among the top five or ten search results. These pages have a lot of potential to make it to the top of Google. I would recommend checking whether these pieces:

  • Are supported by internal links. The higher the referring article is in the search results, the better it is for you.
  • Are easily discoverable. How long will it take a user to find your article? And I’m not talking only about the number of internal links in your content piece, but also whether it’s featured in a similar content feed on blog posts.
  • Have enough external links. If there are none, then you should definitely consider mentioning your article in one of your next guest posts, or ask your colleagues in the PR department to help spread the word.
  • Have a well-written title and meta descriptions. Sometimes, this is what really affects your click-through rate and, as a result, your traffic.
  • Make a user stay on your page reading longer. If the answer is no, you need to brainstorm what kind of triggers you can add to your page so that your users spend some time browsing around your content. It could be a catchy GIF, educational videos, or product slide presentations.

The needs and wants of your business: Define the right metrics to track your progress

From an early age, we’re taught that there’s a difference between a need and a want, that we only have a few true basic needs, and myriad wants. The same logic can be applied to the business world, but it’s a lot harder to discern and comprehend.

During this stage, you need to select highly meaningful and relevant metrics that align perfectly with your business needs. Please don’t try to use generic metrics — your business may have its own kind of struggles and goals. For some businesses, for instance, a conversion does not equal money. I run a free online conference called Digital Olympus that does not intend to sell anything. For me, a conversion is a registration, and I’ve come to learn that the best conversion for my situation is when a registered user attends my online event. Keep such things in mind at all times!

Another great example of a non-monetary conversion comes from one of my clients. They are a completely free SaaS software for specialists in the agricultural industry. They realized that their conversions aren’t registrations alone, and the reason is quite simple. After carefully analyzing their users’ behavior, they discovered that after a user registers, they aren’t taking advantage of their tool at all. For them, the best conversion is a registered user that is actively involved with their product. Coincidentally, that’s where content marketing can come into play to solve their problems. Their users need help to understand how they can take advantage of the software; adding relevant content to the company’s site will surely add clarity and improve users’ understanding of their product.

When it comes to creating and managing content, it’s always a good idea to see exactly how users interact with it. Do they click on your call-to-action buttons? How many of them read your article in its entirety? All of these metrics are very easy to track if you use Google Tag Manager. It’s a must-have tool, allowing you to track whatever you want without going through the excruciating process of dealing with your dev team. Here’s an excellent post by Simo Ahava that explains which metrics you can track and analyze with the help of GTM.

Have your Google Analytics reports ever shown you something like this?:

img_560d3e8dd6eff.png

If the answer is yes, you must know that elevating feeling of joy and excitement, seeing all these visitors checking out your page. But unless you’re a deliberate YouTuber with a fame complex, you’re not interested in traffic, per se. You want to witness conversions.

The goals of pages that attract traffic but don’t convert, in the majority of cases, don’t match up to the goals of your web visitors. If you haven’t added lead magnets on those pages yet, it should be your top priority, because currently those content pieces aren’t converting your traffic into something tangible.

Don’t neglect the importance of SEO

Yes, it’s definitely important to write meaningful content that will perfectly resonate with your audience — but that’s not all. If you want to bring a steady flow of new visitors with the help of that content, you must optimize each of your posts to make sure that it has a fighting chance to rank on Google.

I highly recommend spending some time researching topics that will increase your chances to rank well. Below are a few ways you can identify them:

1. Find related keywords

Imagine you discovered that keywords related to “content marketing strategy” are the keywords driving the most conversions. Those keywords should be analyzed in order to find other keywords related to that subject. These keywords have proven to mirror your audience’s search behavior the most, and they’re very promising in terms of earning you more paying clients.

One of the easiest ways to find related keywords is to simply check Google’s Autocomplete. You can look for autocomplete suggestions manually or by using tools like AnswerThePublic.com and Keywordtool.io. The latter scans Google Autosuggest and gives you the search volume for each keyword entered. It’s a time-saver.

Another tool worth trying is SEMrush’s Keyword Magic tool. It automatically gives you the most necessary information about a keyword, factoring in metrics such as CPC and volume (basic, but much-needed), keyword difficulty, competition level, SERP features, and exact and broad keyword matches. This tool gathers the data you need and offers a wide range of analysis for both single keywords and groups of keywords.

2. Check the competition level in the SERPs

After you’ve compiled a list of related keywords, it’s time to choose the keywords (e.g., topics for your future articles) that will help you rank higher in Google.

To save time, use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Difficulty. It tells you how difficult it will be for you to promote your piece of content based on the domain’s visibility in organic search results. However, the Keyword Difficulty tool doesn’t consider the number of referring domains for the website or page URL you’re trying to look up. Here’s what you can do to make the process of gathering this missing data hassle-free:

  • Begin by collecting the list of domains and pages (URLs) that currently rank in Google for the list of keywords you’ve selected during the previous step. To speed things up, use a tool that allows you to easily export lists of domains and pages.
  • After you collect all the domains and URLs, you’ll need to check the number of referring domains for each of them. Tools like Ahrefs or the Majestic Bulk Backlink Checker will allow you to analyze multiple links at once.
  • Finally, you can get a good understanding of what kinds of keywords have more or less competition based not only on the number of searchers they have, but also on their actual situation in the SERPs.

After these steps are completed, you’ll see how many referring domains each of your content pieces ought to have in order to rank higher. You’ll also be able to identify the number of referring domains by looking at how many links have been acquired by the other pages that currently rank well.

Content promotion that gives short-term results

As I’ve mentioned previously, you need to remember that ranking in Google and attracting organic visitors are among the top goals of any content piece. Ideally, every article you publish on your website should eventually rank well, but you need to give your new SEO campaign some time before it bears fruit. While you’re waiting, you can take advantage of the promotional activities that allow for almost instantaneous results. Depending on your budget and your current rankings, choose one of the following promotional activities that seem most relevant for you.

A. Promote your posts on social media channels

Some people say the world will never be same again thanks to social media. Not sure how to interpret that exactly, but not taking advantage of this powerful channel is reckless! This is a basic and very common way to promote content, and it’s not rocket science to figure out how things work. But let me give you a couple of really actionable tips that will help you to maximize the output:

  1. Create a short video to promote your content. They tend to perform really well on Facebook.
  2. Use GIFs that prove to be very effective. Tools like Canva will help you create them without needing to hire a designer, unless you really want your GIFs to win you an award.
  3. On Twitter, tag users that have recently shared something similar to your content. Search for a term that is related to your article, and you’ll see a list of users who you can tag.
  4. Facebook groups are always a great idea — especially private groups. I recommend researching such groups in advance. Be sure to think of a catchy, unique intro you’ll be able to post to each group. This article explains the benefits of building a Facebook group. Get inspired and get out there to network!
  5. If you want to promote your post on Facebook, make sure that your preview image meets the Facebook Ads Guidelines.
  6. Set up a small ad campaign on Twitter targeting users that have recently shared related content. Use BuzzSumo to find like-minded users.

B. Collect leads

If you choose this way of promotion, then you are going to put in some work. A dull page with “meh”-looking content won’t cut it. You’ll need to prepare something beforehand, something that will look attractive enough to convince a visitor to give you their email. A user is more likely to give you their contact information when they are offered one (or all) of the following options:

  • Exclusive content
  • Content with quotes from or provided by well-known industry experts
  • A webinar with a popular industry expert
  • Useful tools and templates. For instance, it’d be very helpful if a post offered to download a free and ready-to-use content — a promotional plan with a detailed description of all stages and resources one may need to implement a marketing strategy.

In case you don’t have a staff developer to help you with designing and adding a form to your website, there are different online services (like wisepops.com, wishpond.com, popupmonkey.com, or sumo.com) that you can use to create any kind of forms you want.

C. Use remarketing

Typically, only about 30% of visitors are willing to give you their contact details. The remaining 70% read or skim your content, close the tab, and get back to their routine. But you still have a second chance with them. How? The answer is remarketing:

  1. Prepare banners and landing pages that are relevant to your content. These can invite your users to join a webinar or offer an exclusive content. Basically, you can use the same lead magnets that you’ve already integrated into your content page.
  2. Prepare a script to automatically exclude your existing clients and leads from your remarketing campaign. There’s no need to bother them… yet.

D. Use email marketing automation to turn leads into paying clients

If you are somehow collecting leads and aren’t putting them through email marketing funnels, then you might as well just burn the rest of your money. HubSpot will really come in handy here because you can create email marketing funnels based not only on how users interact with your emails, but also on the type of pages your leads have visited. I’ve tried several HubSpot features while working on a few projects in the past, and I couldn’t have asked for a more powerful functionality.

In case you aren’t a Hubspot user, there are other marketing tools that allow you to create email funnels. I’d also suggest involving your leads in as many activities as you possibly can, because every interaction matters and is making them warmer. Ask them to follow you on social media channels. You can also offer some case studies or success stories another client shared about your brand. Real-life cases with your actual clients are very powerful, and the open and click rates of these emails can be a lot higher.

Before you start pushing your products or services to your leads, it’s important to research what brought them to your website in the first place. This is absolutely essential, but sadly, a lot of companies tend to forget to do this research and fail; open rates plummet and users unsubscribe. Don’t let this happen to you.

In conclusion

It’s obvious why some blogs only post a couple of articles a year. What’s the point in creating tons of content that won’t bring any value to the business?

Always keep your SEO goals in mind, and remember that you have to do some preparation in order for them to be delivered accurately and on time. Even short-term results require some leg work. No doubt that, once you’ve adjusted your routine, practiced some of the tactics mentioned above, and are consistent with them, every time you create a piece of meaningful and purposeful content, it will take you less time to manage and promote it.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Source: Moz

How Long Should Your Meta Description Be? (2018 Edition) 0

Posted by Dr-Pete

Summary: The end of November saw a spike in the average length of SERP snippets. Across 10K keywords (90K results), we found a definite increase but many oddities, such as video snippets. Our data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters, and going into 2018 we recommend a new meta description limit of 300 characters.

Back in spring of 2015, we reported that Google search snippets seemed to be breaking the 155-character limit, but our data suggested that these cases were fairly rare. At the end of November, RankRanger’s tools reported a sizable jump in the average search snippet length (to around 230 characters). Anecdotally, we’re seeing many long snippets in the wild, such as this 386-character one on a search for “non compete agreement”:

Search Engine Land was able to get confirmation from Google of a change to how they handle search snippets, although we don’t have specifics or official numbers. Is it time to revisit our guidelines on meta descriptions limits heading into 2018? We dug into our daily 10,000-keyword tracking data to find out…

The trouble with averages

In our 10K tracking data for December 15th, which consisted of 89,909 page-one organic results, the average display snippet (stripped of HTML, of course) was 215 characters long, slightly below RankRanger’s numbers, but well above historical trends.

This number is certainly interesting, but it leaves out quite a bit. First of all, the median character length is 186, suggesting that some big numbers are potentially skewing the average. On the other hand, some snippets are very short because their meta Ddescriptions are very short. Take this snippet for Vail.com:

Sure enough, this is Vail.com’s meta description tag (I’m not gonna ask):

Do we really care that a lot of people just write ridiculously short meta descriptions? No, what we really want to know is at what point Google is cutting off long descriptions. So, let’s just look at the snippets that were cut (determined by the ” …” at the end). In our data set, this leaves just about 3.6% (3,213), so we can already see that the vast majority of descriptions aren’t getting cut off.

Coincidentally, the average is still 215, but let’s look at the frequency distribution of the lengths of just the cut snippets. The graph below shows cut-snippet lengths in bins of 25 (0-25, 25-50, etc.):

If we’re trying to pin down a maximum length for meta descriptions, this is where things get a bit weird (and frustrating). There seems to be a chunk of snippets cut off at the 100–125 character range and another chunk at the 275–300 range. Digging in deeper, we discovered that two things were going on here…

Oddity #1: Video snippets

Spot-checking some of the descriptions cut off in the 100–125 character range, we realized that a number of them were video snippets, which seem to have shorter limits:

These snippets seem to generally max out at two lines, and they’re further restricted by the space the video thumbnail occupies. In our data set, a full 88% of video snippets were cut off (ended in ” …”). Separating out video, only 2.1% of organic snippets were cut off.

Oddity #2: Pre-cut metas

A second oddity was that some meta description tags seem to be pre-truncated (possibly by CMS systems). So, the “…” in those cases is an unreliable indicator. Take this snippet, for example:

This clocks in at 150 characters, right around the old limit. Now, let’s look at the meta description:

This Goodreads snippet is being pre-truncated. This was true for almost all of the Goodreads meta descriptions in our data set, and may be a CMS setting or a conscious choice by their SEO team. Either way, it’s not very useful for our current analysis.

So, we attempted to gather all of the original meta description tags to check for pre-truncated data. We were unable to gather data from all sites, and some sites don’t use meta description tags at all, but we were still able to remove some of the noise.

Let’s try this again (…)

So, let’s pull out all of the cut snippets with video thumbnails and the ones where we know the meta description ended in “…”. This cuts us down to 1,722 snippets (pretty deep dive from the original 89,909). Here’s what the frequency distribution of lengths looks like now:

Now, we’re getting somewhere. There are still a few data points down in the 150–175 range, but once I hand-checked them, they appear to be sites that had meta description tags ending in “…” that we failed to crawl properly.

The bulk of these snippets are being cut off in the 275–325 character range. In this smaller, but more normal-looking distribution, we’ve got a mean of 299 characters and a median of 288 characters. While we’ve had to discard a fair amount of data along the way, I’m much more comfortable with these numbers.

What about the snippets over 350 characters? It’s hard to see from this graph, but they maxed out at 375 characters. In some cases, Google is appending their own information:

While the entire snippet is 375 characters, the “Jump…” link is added by Google. The rest of the snippet is 315 characters long. Google also adds result counts and dates to the front of some snippets. These characters don’t seem to count against the limit, but it’s a bit hard to tell, because we don’t have a lot of data points.

Do metas even matter?

Before we reveal the new limit, here’s an uncomfortable question — when it seems like Google is rewriting so many snippets, is it worth having meta description tags at all? Across the data set, we were able to successfully capture 70,059 original Meta Description tags (in many of the remaining cases, the sites simply didn’t define one). Of those, just over one-third (35.9%) were used as-is for display snippets.

Keep in mind, though, that Google truncates some of these and appends extra data to some. In 15.4% of cases, Google used the original meta description tag, but added some text. This number may seem high, but most of these cases were simply Google adding a period to the end of the snippet. Apparently, Google is a stickler for complete sentences. So, now we’re up to 51.3% of cases where either the display snippet perfectly matched the meta description tag or fully contained it.

What about cases where the display snippet used a truncated version of the meta description tag? Just 3.2% of snippets matched this scenario. Putting it all together, we’re up to almost 55% of cases where Google is using all or part of the original meta description tag. This number is probably low, as we’re not counting cases where Google used part of the original meta description but modified it in some way.

It’s interesting to note that, in some cases, Google rewrote a meta description because the original description was too short or not descriptive enough. Take this result, for example:

Now, let’s check out the original meta description tag…

In this case, the original meta description was actually too short for Google’s tastes. Also note that, even though Google created the snippet themselves, they still cut it off with a “…”. This strongly suggests that cutting off a snippet isn’t a sign that Google thinks your description is low quality.

On the flip side, I should note that some very large sites don’t use meta description tags at all, and they seem to fare perfectly well in search results. One notable example is Wikipedia, a site for which defining meta descriptions would be nearly impossible without automation, and any automation would probably fall short of Google’s own capabilities.

I think you should be very careful using Wikipedia as an example of what to do (or what not do), when it comes to technical SEO, but it seems clear from the data that, in the absence of a meta description tag, Google is perfectly capable of ranking sites and writing their own snippets.

At the end of the day, I think it comes down to control. For critical pages, writing a good meta description is like writing ad copy — there’s real value in crafting that copy to drive interest and clicks. There’s no guarantee Google will use that copy, and that fact can be frustrating, but the odds are still in your favor.

Is the 155 limit dead?

Unless something changes, and given the partial (although lacking in details) confirmation from Google, I think it’s safe to experiment with longer meta description tags. Looking at the clean distribution, and just to give it a nice even number, I think 300 characters is a pretty safe bet. Some snippets that length may get cut off, but the potential gain of getting in more information offsets that relatively small risk.

That’s not to say you should pad out your meta descriptions just to cash in on more characters. Snippets should be useful and encourage clicks. In part, that means not giving so much away that there’s nothing left to drive the click. If you’re artificially limiting your meta descriptions, though, or if you think more text would be beneficial to search visitors and create interest, then I would definitely experiment with expanding.

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Source: Moz