Mobile Meta Descriptions Must Be Short

Meta descriptions below 157 characters is SEO 101. Is this length right for mobile meta descriptions? No.

It turns out that the character limit is not absolute. When blogging got big Google updated their code to show the publication date at the beginning of the search result. This ate away from the number of characters you could use for your meta description. When this comes into play you only have 139 characters that you can use. This is a rule I’ve taken to heart. My natural writing style isn’t very terse. Crafting a good meta description that includes the post’s main keyboard and encourages a user to read more in so few characters is tough for me. I find that it’s one of the slowest parts of writing these posts.

Little did I know, but mobile changes things.

Mobile Meta Descriptions: 120 Characters or Less

While reviewing a mobile site audit checklist I can across a point about meta descriptions. They suggest that you make your meta description work with only 120 characters. This was news to me. I raced off to my many mobile devices to check.

Mobile meta descriptions can display differently on a smartphone

Google results for a recent blog post. On the left shows the meta description for a tablet. On the right shows the mobile meta description for a smartphone.

The post’s meta description was 138 characters. The smartphone search had the last 34-35 characters cut off. That proves that you need to keep your mobile meta descriptions short.

If you thought 139 characters was bad, keeping things below 120 is even more difficult. When you factor in the date you’re really only left with 103 characters to write a good description. This makes it even more difficult to write compelling meta descriptions.

I highly suggest that you view Google search results on your smartphone. One easy way to do this is to do a search that looks like:


Including the site Google Search Operator means that you are telling Google to only display results for that domain. This will simplify your ability to check the way your site displays in Google search results.

Does everything look alright? If not it’s time to update your mobile meta descriptions. As always if you need assistance simply contact us and Brand Builder Websites can help.

Thank you and keep building your brand.



Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
This entry was posted in Informative, Mobile, Search Engine Optimization, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mobile Meta Descriptions Must Be Short

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