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    hof
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    Purposely long Meta descriptions for social


    Hi there,

    I'd love to get some feedback on an idea I have to auto-generate the Meta descriptions for our forum thread's Meta descriptions using the first 300 characters of the thread. The rationale is that its better than a blank description, and Facebook and Google Plus both pull more than the 160 characters displayed in search. Any downsides to the long description?

    Thanks!
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    Meta Descriptions that are longer than 156 characters will get truncated in the search results. Whilst this won't necessarily effect your rankings, it can negatively impact click-through rates. That is why it is generally considered good practice to generate unique and descriptive descriptions for each page.

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    • DarrenHaye agrees : Welcome back.
    Owner/Founder of Crimson Penguin SEO Services. Follow me on Twitter!
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    hof
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    Thanks for the quick reply! But with forum pages, I think 99% of the time Google will end up taking a snippet from the body of the thread anyhow (because the query probably isn't in the Meta description provided). The feel like the only real value in Meta descriptions for forum threads (where its impossible to write custom descriptions), is in Facebook and G+ sharing. Does that make sense? And if thats the case, aren't I better off writing the Meta description for FB, rather than Google? Thats where I'm assuming the long description won't negatively affect rankings.
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    You're best off creating unique and engaging META descriptions for each page, this will improve CTRs.

    If you insist on your idea of using the first characters of your on-page content (which I don't recommend!), you're better off leaving the description blank and letting Google automatically select a snippet to display in the SERPs...
    "In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life." - George Best
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    Why not take a look at how other forums are treating their meta descriptions?

    This forum, for example, uses a template for its descriptions as follows:

    [thread title]- [sub forum]. Visit SEO Chat to discuss [thread title]

    Failing that you should just take thegodfather's advice and let Google choose the snippet description for you.
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    hof
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    Thanks to both of you! But, I don't think that these types of templated descriptions are as useful for forum posts as body content would be. For example, compare the two options using exactly this thread;

    SEO Chat's title and description on a FB post:

    Purposely long Meta descriptions for social
    Purposely long Meta descriptions for social- Google Optimization. Visit SEO Chat to discuss Purposely long Meta descriptions for social

    Alternative, I think better result:

    Purposely long Meta descriptions for social
    Hi there, I'd love to get some feedback on an idea I have to auto-generate the Meta
    descriptions for our forum thread's Meta descriptions using the first 300 characters of the
    thread. The rationale is that its better than a blank description, and Facebook
    and Google Plus both pull more than the 160

    IMO, duplicating the title tag multiple times in the description isn't a better experience and wouldn't lead to better CTR in FB. As for Google, 99% of searches where forum pages are going to rank will end up with a scraped description anyhow. Do you still disagree?

    I guess leaving it blank is an option, but then I have to look at thousands of "blank meta description" HTML suggestions in GWT. Maybe only providing the first 160 characters would be better, just to be safe? Anyhow, any other considerations would be much appreciated!
    Last edited by hof; Oct 19th, 2012 at 12:36 PM.
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    Thanks Darren, good to be back!

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