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Short Meta Descriptions

Short Meta Descriptions | Canonical Pages

In this guide we describe what this meta description is, what the check is, how it works, and we provide context as to why this SEO check is performed. The short meta description check is performed exclusively on canonical pages (pages with a self-referential canonical tag) within this part of reporting.


Short Meta Description Pages

Any meta description correctly implemented on a canonical page that is less than 100 characters including spaces and punctuation, is defined as too short.

Every canonical page should contain a unique and optimised meta description within in the <head> section of the source code and it should contain between 100 & 160 characters.


What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a tag containing text that exists in the source code of a page and is only visible or used in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Meta descriptions encourage users to click on your organic listings and as such are a powerful indirect ranking factor. This makes them very useful for SEO, which means they should be optimised.

The meta description including the HTML tags (of our homepage) sits in the <head> section of the source code and looks like this:

<meta name="description" content="Raptor - Digital Marketing Tools. Advanced Web Crawler now available, sign up for a free trial and get 5,000 URLs free! Sign Up Today!">


What is a Canonical Page?

A canonical page is a webpage that has a self-referential canonical tag present on it. A canonical tag advises Google as to the preferred / original version of content. If a page / piece of content is accessible from multiple URLs or is short across multiple pages, a canonical tag helps to define the ‘canonical’ version.

A canonical tag contains a URL and if that URL matches the URL of the page being accessed, it is defined as a canonical page. Canonical pages are typically the ‘SEO’ pages of a site as they are most likely to appear in the search results. The canonical tag of our homepage looks like this in HTML:

<link rel="canonical" href="">


What is a Short Meta Description?

A short meta description is where a canonical page has a meta description correctly implemented within the HTML, but the content of the tag is less than 100 characters in length.

Short meta descriptions are considered informational, rather than a serious or minor error. Typically, meta descriptions that use fewer characters than this are not as effective as they could be. Because the meta description strongly affects whether someone will click on your listing in the SERPs; it is important to utilise the space available.

Short meta descriptions should be re-written or expanded to be closer to the 160-character limit, to take full advantage of the space available and encourage clicks.

Learn more about meta descriptions and how to optimise them to help improve the organic visibility of your website.


What Do We Check & How?

Raptor’s SEO auditing software crawls a site and extracts the contents of all the meta description tags present. If the tag contains less than 100 characters of text (including, numbers, spaces, punctuation, and special characters) we define the page to have a ‘short meta description’.

A page will need to be canonical and the meta description tag will need to be correctly implemented in the source code for it to show in the ‘canonical pages’ section of the SEO Errors tab.

We present the data for this in the reporting tabs and SEO audit charts within our suite of SEO tools. The raw data is also available to download from the export tab within reporting, where you can get both CSV and XLXS files for any project or site.

Because these checks are performed exclusively on canonical pages, if a short meta description is found on a non-canonical page it would not be flagged as an error here. You will be able to see all short meta description pages under the ‘meta description’ category in the SEO Errors report.


What should you do with this data?

You can use our software to identify short meta descriptions across your site and you can use that data to:

  • Re-write or expand the meta descriptions of affected pages
  • Improve the organic visibility of the affected pages
  • Provide the list of short meta description pages to a client
  • Track & analyse SEO issues on a website