How to Add an SEO Title and Meta Description in WordPress
September 23rd 2021 | By Sarah McInerney
As we explored in our last post how to use meta tags for SEO, meta tags such as the SEO page title and meta description play a crucial role in search engine optimisation and user experience, and are huge influencers of how well a website can rank in the search results, and the chance a search listing has of being clicked through.
If you have a WordPress website, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to set your SEO title tag and meta description. Here’s an at-a-glance guide of how to add an SEO title in WordPress, and how to craft a clickable meta description.
What are the SEO page title and meta description?
The SEO title tag lets browsers and search engines know what the web page is about. As the first clickable element in the search results, it has an important job to do when it comes to enticing click-throughs. The more relevant and compelling it is, the more chance you have of a user making the decision to click on your link.
A meta description is a short piece of content that further expands on what’s on the web page. The snippet appears in the search engine results pages, helping users understand whether the page meets their search intent.
Why add your own SEO title tag and meta description in WordPress?
WordPress says that millions of blog posts are published every day, so there will always be huge swathes of competition. More than two thirds of clicks go to the top five results in the search results, which is why it’s so important to set an SEO page title and meta description for all your posts and pages.
WordPress allows you to customise the SEO page title and meta description for posts and pages. If you don’t add your own meta description, Google will automatically take snippets from the pages and generate its own. Helpful as it may see, it’s actually more beneficial to write your own meta description so that it is relevant to your particular audience and is compelling enough to entice a click through.
Sometimes, if a meta description hasn’t been written in such a way that it is relevant to the search keywords, Google may still take a snippet from the content. This is precisely why it’s vital to write a meta description that includes the focus keywords and that is spot-on relevant to the content.
How to add SEO title and meta description in WordPress?
The easiest way to add the SEO page title and meta description in WordPress is by using an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO. This way you won’t need any coding or special WordPress knowledge, as it’s a very simple process. Yoast actually helps you by ensuring you stick to the optimum meta description and SEO title length, and also by showing you a preview of how your snippet will appear in the search engines.
Once you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you will see the Yoast SEO section in the page editor of every post and page. This is where you can edit the SEO title and meta description, as well as add a focus keyphrase. Adding a focus keyphrase will give you a Yoast SEO score to help you see how well your post or page could potentially do from an SEO perspective.
Adding the SEO page title in WordPress
Working in the editor for the page or post you want to add your SEO title tag to, head to the Yoast section and open the Google Preview dropdown section.
You’ll see the SEO page title box, into which can you can type your meta title. You’ll be allowed up to 60 characters and a minimum of 30, but if you aim for around 55 characters than that will avoid the title being cut off in the search results.
As you type, a bar underneath will turn from orange to green. This indicates whether your SEO meta title is the right length. Too short or long and the bar will be orange. Make sure it’s green. You can also use the INSERT VARIABLE function to automatically insert information such as the page or post title, primary category and separator type in the order you wish.
Lastly, take a look at how your SEO page title snippet will look in both mobile and desktop search results in the Google Preview.
Adding a meta description to posts and pages in WordPress
The meta description box is in the same Yoast SEO section as the SEO page title.
The ideal length for a meta description is between 70 and 155 characters, although aiming for 150 is ideal. Too short and there won’t be enough information to attract clicks, too long and the description will be cut off in the search results snippet.
You can write your meta description directly into the box. As you do, you will see the bar change from orange to green as you hit the right meta description length.
Again, you have the option to use the Insert variable function to insert meta tags that will generate meta descriptions automatically. Beware though, as these descriptions may be below par, and search engines may replace them with their own versions.
Finally, scroll back up to your Google Preview and take a look at how your meta description sits alongside your SEO page title.
Harness the potential of SEO page titles and meta descriptions in WordPress
The page title tag and meta description in WordPress are crucial elements that can influence SEO and user experience. Ensuring they’re set correctly and well-crafted will help rank your site higher and make your search result snippet more clickable.
Remember to include target keywords in your SEO page title and meta description and keep the search intent in mind to let users informed as to whether your content includes the information they are looking for.