How to Add an SEO Title and Meta Description in WordPress
| September 16th 2023
Meta tags, such as the SEO page title and meta description, amongst others, play a crucial role in search engine optimisation and user experience. They are also huge influencers of how well a website can rank in the search results, and the chance a search listing has of being clicked through.
Without SEO page title and description meta tags, search engines are likely to find it difficult to work out what your web page is all about. And if you don’t add your own title and description tags, Google will do it for you. Which as we’ll explore later on, is not an ideal scenario.
Every platform has a different solution for adding meta tags. If you are concerned specifically with how to add metadata in WordPress, then this at-a-glance guide of how to add an SEO title in WordPress, and how to craft a clickable meta description. It’s a straightforward guide that our London based SEO agency uses all the time.
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.
Without doubt, meta tags matter for SEO in 2023. Whilst there are other factors that will support your website in its efforts to rank at the top of the search results, such as quality, helpful content; a positive user experience and good technical SEO, meta tags play a pivotal role.
The SEO title tag relays the title of the web page to browsers and search engines. It’s the first clickable element in the search results pages. It’s job is to let users know what the page is about, and let them make an informed decision whether to click on the result. This is why it needs to be attention-grabbing; ideally with a call to action, or an offer to answer a frequently asked question or address a common pain point.
The meta description is also important. Poorly written descriptions can lead to a low click-through rate, so it’s vital that you spend time crafting something compelling, and that does a stellar job of describing the benefits of clicking on the result.
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. Now, as we touched on before, 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 be, 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 custom meta description has been added but 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?
When it comes to how to add metadata in WordPress, you have a few options.
This way you won’t need any coding or special WordPress knowledge, as it’s a very simple process. Plugins help 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE… it’s essential to be aware that whilst there are various WordPress SEO plugin choices, you should settle on only one of them. This is because plugins often throw up compatibility issues with each other. The more plugins you install, the slower your website could become. And website speed is a vital factor considered by search engines when ranking sites.
As a WordPress SEO agency, we use a variety of SEO plugins, but have found Yoast, All in One SEO and Rank Math amongst the best, so those are the ones we’ll cover in this post on how to add and update meta data in WordPress.
How to add metadata in WordPress with Yoast
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.
How to add metadata in WordPress with All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack is the second most popular SEO plugin, with more than two million active installs.
The plugin automatically generates meta tags from your content, which you can overwrite with your own anytime you like.
If you’re running a WordPress ecommerce website, then you may benefit from the advanced Woocommerce support offered by this plugin.
Once you’ve installed and activated the All in One SEO Pack plugin, in the editor, choose the post or page you’d like to add your meta description and SEO page title to. Scroll down until you see the All in One settings.
Under the general tab, look for the Meta Description field. Here’s where you can enter your custom meta description. As you type, you’ll see your character count tracked so you can make sure it stays within the recommended length. Whilst Yoast allows 155 characters, All in One gives you 160, but there is no harm in keeping this slightly lower at say 150.
All in One SEO Plugin allows you to preview your meta descriptions in either mobile or desktop view, so you can see how they look on different devices.
How to add metadata in WordPress with Rank Math
Rank Math is a WordPress SEO plugin which provides a range of SEO features on a free or paid basis. The free version is good enough for adding SEO page titles and meta descriptions.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, select the page or post you want to add meta data to.
Locate the Meta Box in the editing screen. If you are using the WordPress Classic Editor, you’ll find the box a fair way down near the bottom. If you’re a Block Editor user, you will find the Meta Box in the top right hand corner of the page. Just look for the Rank Math SEO icon and click that to open up your options.
Under the General tab, simply click Edit Snippet to open the Preview Snipper Editor box.
You can add your custom SEO page title in the Title field, and your custom meta description in the Description field. You can also assign a custom permalink (slug/URL) if you don’t want to run with the default that matches the page title.
Again, as with Yoast SEO and All in One SEO, you’ll see a word count tracker to help keep you within the optimum title and description lengths. Rank Math, like All in One, allows 160 characters for the description.
Once you’ve added your SEO page title and description, just click the X in the top right hand corner and Rank Math will save what you’ve put in.
Again, you can preview your descriptions in Rank Math, and again you can preview for mobile or desktop.
The great thing about Rank Math is that it gives you feedback on whether you’re using your target keywords in your meta description and SEO title. If you are, you’ll get a reassuring green tick. If you’re not, you’ll get a red cross.
Like Yoast, Rank Math also lets you add variables, which can be used to create dynamic titles and descriptions, or a blend of both static and dynamic.
There are lots of variables to choose from. The benefit of using them is that you can save time by referring to existing values, as you won’t have to add or update the title and description manually every time one of these values changes. Variables include post category, date published or modified, post tags, focus keywords and post type, to name just a few.
Other SEO plugins for adding metadata in WordPress
Other plugins you can use to add metadata in WordPress include SEO Booster, SEOPress, Squirrely SEO, Meta Tag Manager and WP Meta SEO. Everyone has their personal preferences. Some prefer the simpler metadata plugins that do what they say on the tin and only that, whilst others like full-on functionality and added features so that they can get the most out of their SEO efforts.
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.