The first question that comes up about the OG:Description tag is “What is OG:?” In this case it does not mean Original Gangster. OG stands for Open Graph which is a tagging protocol (OGP) that is quickly spreading and being adopted across the web as a new standard (you can learn all about OGP at the Open Graph Protocol site).
The second question is “What’s the max character limit of the OG:Description tag”? Short answer, there is none. Long answer 160-300. The actual OG:Description tag has no character limit. It’s a meta tag so there’s virtually no limit on how many characters you can include. What a site will display is a completely different scenario.
Every site has a character limitation to what it will display on links and content shares. so do many of the sharing services out there and that’s where we get the 160-300 number. Knowing this, the question is no longer about max size, but how to optimize your OG:Description tags for your audience.
Facebook OG:Description Tag Display Limit
Right now Facebook only displays the first 300 characters of a description so if your primary audience is on Facebook write your OG:Description tag accordingly. 300 characters is more than double the length of a tweet (2.14x to be exact) so you have plenty of room for product descriptions, keywords, and even a CTA.
LinkedIn OG:Description Tag Display Limit
Yes, LinkedIn also pulls from OG tags and the display limit is 225 characters. In this case if your primary audience hangs out and shares info on LinkedIn you don’t want to write your OG:Description tags to be any longer than 225 characters or else it will be truncated.
Another point of interest with LinkedIn is that it doesn’t seem to pull in special characters like Facebook, Google and other do. In the example the title has a ? instead of a TM after Party Animal so if you’re audience is on LinkedIn avoid special characters in your OG:Title tag.
Google Plus OG:Description Tag Display Limit
Even the newcomer Google+ pulls info from OG tags, and it has the smallest description display of the social networks weighing in at only 200 characters. While 200 is very little compared to Facebook’s weighty 300, it’s still enough to ensure that you have a keyword rich description available.
Determining character limit on other platforms
By now we all know that social media is much more than just Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. There are hundreds of other sites, platforms, niche networks, etc. out there and many will have different limits for what they display. The easiest way I’ve to find out what that limit is (and the process I used here) is to share a link with a long description then copy the text (minus the …) and paste it in a character counter.
The list of sites and services that pull info from OG tags is growing every day. Right now there is a plethora of services that pull info from OG: tags including major sharing services like ShareThis. So if you employ easy sharing solutions like ShareThis it’s a good idea to have your OG tags in place. Check with any 3rd party addons, plugins, and services you use to see if they pull data from OG tags.
Even if you don’t use anything that pulls from OG tags (which would mean you’re not using any social sharing on your site) it’s still a good idea to implement OG: Tags to help you can control what gets displayed when your content or products get shared. If you don’t use the OG tags then the service will do it’s best to figure out what should be in the description, title, image, etc. and you have to hope the user corrects any mistakes before they share it.
Simply put, using OG tags help you direct the experience with your products or content even when the experience isn’t happening on your site and optimizing the OG:Description tag is all about where your audience is and your keywords.
Thanks for reading,
Josh S Peters