Sometimes its the little things that can trip up your SEO efforts. For the last few months, I’ve been working on a client’s e-commerce website that uses Shopify. One of the most frustrating issues that always needs fixing is the length of the meta description on every single page.
I’ll get an email from Ahrefs every few days that gives me the details of their most recent crawl for my client’s website. I like to maintain an SEO health score of at least 90. It should honestly be at 100 all the time, but e-commerce sites are nearly impossible to keep up with.
How Long Should The Meta Description Be?
A meta description should be less than 160 characters (not words, characters). You also don’t want it to be too short, either. I like to think Google rewards sites for maximizing their potential. If you are allowed 160 characters…use 160 characters. Not 120, not 140. This goes for everything, including title tags and URLs.
What Should You Put In The Meta Description?
Your meta description shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords. This won’t help you (and that’s a fact). Think of your page title like a hook to catch the reader’s attention. Now that you’ve got it, you can stop fighting for it. Gently inform that reader what your page is about without giving everything up right away. You still want them to click through.
Site Atrophy Is Real, And It’s An SEO Nightmare
Site atrophy is a term used to describe the negative impact of neglecting you site’s maintenance. For most websites, it’s not a huge problem but it still needs to be pruned and spruced up every once in a while.
For an e-commerce site that is always updating it’s pages with new products, removing old products, adding tags and collections…the rate of atrophy is much higher.
The reason this affects your site’s SEO is because your website’s keyword rankings are placed much higher if your website is maintained better. Having thousands of pages that are missing the most simplest of ranking factors (meta descriptions) can harm the performance of those pages in the search results.
Solving Too Long Meta Descriptions On Shopify
For Shopify and it’s SEO-incompetent meta description settings, it’s hard to keep up with every single page. The best thing you can do to solve this issues is to prioritize which pages should have their descriptions fixed first.
I like to start by picking the top ranking pages by keyword, then work my way down to pages that are struggling to move in rankings. Only after my top performing pages have their meta descriptions fixed will I start to chip away at less-important pages.