If you are undecided about whether you should add meta description to WordPress post or not, this is the text for you. Find out here what to do about it.
What is the WordPress meta description?
For those who are not completely sure what meta description is, just a few words. When you are in the Editor in Word Press, there is a SEO part below the space where you type the text. Since I am typing this text now, I can scroll down to and see this box:
So as you see, it is under the name Description in the SEO part of the post-editing space.
Meta description best practices
So what you are supposed to do with this? One choice is to leave it empty. This is what I have been instructed some time ago when I joined Wealthy Affiliate and started following lessons about site building and online marketing.
We were told that Google will add something in any case, and that it does not always accept what we write in the meta description box. I have examples of my own posts where Google obviously did not accept my suggested meta description and something else appeared in the snippet. I was not happy to see it, but there was nothing I could do about it.
Meta description tag SEO
As you realized, I have just introduced a new term: snippet. What is this?
This is what people see first about your post when they search for something and your post appears on the screen. So this includes:
- Meta title.
- Meta description.
- URL of the post.
Now, when you type your meta description in the mentioned box, you have the preview of the snippet automatically shown above the meta description box.
So WordPress shows you how this snippet will look like when the post is published. How important the snippet is? I would say this is the most important part of the process of writing a post or page in your site.
Why? The answer is that you can have a great text in the post, but unless you attract visitors with your descriptive and catching snippet, this all will be useless.
You know this well from your own searching on the Internet. You type in a search term, and Google gives you back a list of snippets, usually 10 or so on one screen. So you choose one which looks the best and which contains something essential to you, something that catches your eye.
There are certain rules you need to know if you decide to add a meta description, and they can be summarized as follows.
Meta description character limit
The recommended length is up to 155 characters. The best practice is to stay below 145 in order to allow the date to be added by Google. As you see, this is not a lot of space, so use it wisely. In the example I gave above, the length is 143 characters.
Here are a few tips that may be helpful:
- It may be enough only to give a hint about the text without actually explaining it. People are curious by nature and might try to see what the text is about.
- Try to catch attention. Ask a question for example.
- It is advised to use cliffhangers. This may make a great difference; instead of ‘impression’ there may be a ‘click’ more in your statistics. Do you remember the story about Scheherazade? There is some point in it.
- Some suggest adding a call for action into the meta description. You see in the example above that I use ‘read more here about it’. It serves as a cliffhanger as well.
Do search engines care about your meta description?
The answer is: some do, and some do not. Of course, they do not make their ranking rules public. But there exist some recommendations or reading ‘between lines’. If you check the SEO for Bing & Yahoo search engine, you will find the formulation that the meta description is still very important.
How about the main player, Google?
You might be disappointed. Below is a YouTube video where John Mueller from Google answers some questions. This is a long video, over one hour, useful to see. But if you have no time you may check at 21:30 where he speaks about meta description.
It appears that they do something similar to what Google Adsense does: showing different content to different people. So basically you have no control over your meta description (and the same holds for your Adsense box, but this is a separate story).
YouTube video with John Mueller from Google:
So, here we are again: should you add meta description to WordPress post or not? The answer is yes. Why, after all what is said above? Because of the following:
- The meta description is still used by some search engines.
- Google may or may not use it. So it makes no harm if you add it. But if you do this, bear in mind the basic rules and the purpose of a snippet and the purpose of the meta description as its important element.
Thank you for reading. If you find this text useful, please share it with others on your favorite social media. I shall be happy to see some comment from you in the comment box below, and to answer any question.