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Optimal Meta Description Tag Code For WordPress

When Andy Hagans says something, I listen. And Andy Hagans (following Aaron Wall) says that META descriptions are back and important, not for keyword stuffing, so much as page differentiation.

Did you know that the default for most WordPress themes is to NOT include a META description? While title tags remain, in my view, the single most important SEO factor, one of the biggest problems you’ll face with any new-ish site is getting each page indexed. Google evaluates each page to see if it is important enough and different enough to separately indexed. If not, then you’ll find many of your pages going supplemental.

So how does one go about differentiating her site? Well, title tags are a start. But they aren’t enough. The on-page content should be at least 100 words. But sometimes that’s not enough. So what else can you do to help GOOG differentiate your pages and see them as index worthy? Make sure that every page has a unique META description.

But as I said, most WordPress themes don’t have META description code built in. That’s where this post comes in. Below, I include the code for what I think of as two variations of an ideal WordPress META description.

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In the above code, you are basing the description completely on the title of the page. That’s a good start, and it may be the best option for complete differentiation, but in my view, a more complete solution would be something like the following addition

This page contains information about"/>

So what are your thoughts? What do you use to generate descriptions for your individual WordPress pages? If you’re not into an automated soluton via code, what are some of the plugins that you use?

Author: ryancaldwell

18 thoughts on “Optimal Meta Description Tag Code For WordPress

  1. Do you think the use of META tags are enough for G to “evaluates each page to see if it is important enough and different enough to separately indexed” as you stated with all the Panda changes?

  2. I agree with Gerard McGarry. I find that using the head meta description plugin is the best way to keep this sorted out. The 20 word limit is a slight downfall but its just a small hill to overcome!

  3. I use the “All-in-One SEO” plugin for WordPress.

    Assuming you’ve logged in to your WP dashboard, If you go to Settings > All in One SEO:
    you can actually edit your site’s meta description tag by editing “Home Description”
    and your meta keywords by changing your “Home Keywords”.

    You can do this for individual posts and pages as well. When you install the All in One SEO (it’s a FREE plugin by the way), you can specify the title, description (META description tag) and keywords (META keywords) for each post or page you create.

    I just don’t know how this works for blogger, or if it has the option to edit the meta tags at all.

  4. I prefer not to use plug ins for meta tags. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to just add meta tags manually to each page.

  5. I was wondered why WordPress doesn’t have the description tag built into its theme—considering it’s a big deal for SEO purposes. I’m actually using Headway right now and it’s fairly painless. I just write my description in the box and it does the rest. Thanks for the interesting ideas.

  6. I was able to add the code in my wordpress but how do we put the code for each post? or is this unnecessary since the main page is crawled?

  7. How do I get this thing work on blogger? I have been searching for it and how do I put the mark Yahoo and google searches for webmaster in my blogger?

  8. That is a vey good point about META tags. Most SEO folks “in the know” have been dismissing meta info with regards to search engine rankings for quite a while now. That still holds true for Google – they are basically irrelevant to getting ranked – however, the social networks are a different story. I guess the best rule-of-thumb would be take the time to fill them out as if they were important for everything.

  9. I think it is important to use MEYA tags these days as a lot of content is being shared more frequently on social networks. The META description often appears underneath the link you share so it is important you make it as enticing and compelling as possible to ensure that link gets clicked!

    David

  10. I know nothing about PHP.

    But with custom fields and cobbling some PHP together, I’ve managed to get unique meta description and keywords on my home page and on each post.

    Using custom fields gives you far more control than just repeating the title or whatever.

    I’m trying to write some nested if statements to check whether it’s a category page or a tag page as well. But I keep getting it wrong and putting too many squiggly and pointy brackets in …

  11. Yeah, the meta head plugin sorts this out automatically, although it limits the description to 20 words. You can tweak this fairly easily to about 25 words, which gives you a bit more scope.

    At the risk of self-promotion, I wrote a port of the head meta code to ASP.NET and I use it when developing .NET web apps. Could be useful for anyone who’s rolled their own blog platform on .NET.

  12. I dont use plugins.. hardcoded the header.php.. al sections should have something different.. arrange it with php: if, elseif, else.. is_search / is_page / is_single / is_archive / is_category / is_home .. so many options available..

    Regards

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