The meta tags (sometimes I refer to this as meta data) typically consists of a description, title and slug. Meta data is an attribute summing up a web page. It generally appears when someone does a Google search.
Fun fact: I once wrote more than 100 meta data descriptions for a well known optometry brand in less than two days. No wonder I have RSI!
Meta data description
The description is a snippet of 160 characters maximum and resides underneath the SEO title or meta data title. If you look at the image below, you’ll see the paragraph that starts with ‘Isn’t it time you showcased…’ That’s the meta data description.
‘It’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive, so we recommend descriptions between 50–160 characters.’
Meta data title
The title is the heading or title part you see when search results appear. This is most likely the thing you will pay attention to the most when performing a Google search.
This is the title part of your web page that will sum up what is written on the page. It generally appears at the top of browsers, SERP and when sharing via external sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn etc.
See the image below. Jones the Writer Copywriting: Looking For The Best Copywriter? Is the title.
Meta data slug
The slug is the end part of the URL of your website. Use your identified keyword here for improving your search results.
It is purported that keywords placed in your SEO title and slug DO contribute to your SEO but keywords will likely be disregarded in the description. I tend to try and pop them in (at least semantic keywords) anyway. But not if it sacrifices a solid call to action and enticing copy. Remembering that the aim is to get people to click on your link.
To find out what Google is using as your meta data at the moment, go to Google and type in site:yoursitedomain.com
Using meta tags in WordPress
The easiest way to incorporate meta tags in WordPress is to use a plugin. If you’re not a coder, there are some helpful plugins for WordPress to add your meta tags in. Plugins are designed for the average WordPress user to be able to navigate.
Yoast is one of the most popular and user friendly.
How to install Yoast plugin
- Once logged in to your WordPress website, click on plugins in the dashboard.
- Click Add New.
- In the search box on the right hand side, type in Yoast and hit enter.
- Yoast SEO should appear in the search results below it.
- Click Install Now.
- Wait until it has finished installing and then click Active.
In the left hand side column of your dashboard, you should see SEO with the Yoast logo. By clicking on that a drop down/more options of menu items will appear. Click on general and begin the configuration process. Follow the supplied wizard if you are not familiar with WordPress plugins.
What else you need to know about meta data tags
You can go back to old web pages and posts and fill these in. It doesn’t have to apply for newly published or yet to be published content.
Popping in a keyword in the keyword field in Yoast does not affect SEO. This is purely a tool for you to see how effectively you are using the keyword throughout your meta data, image alt tags and content.
Create meta tags for each web page, category page and blog post. Avoid creating generic tags for the entire site.
If you have added in or updated a lot of meta data, it could be worth resubmitting your sitemap via Google Search Console, so you prompt Google to reindex and research your site.
Make sure the meta data accurately describes what content can be found on the page.
My advice is to take Yoast’s SEO readability checklist with a grain of salt. Although it pays to write great content, I find this a little pedantic and may not necessarily affect your SEO. It could gear the writing to be a little more formal and less natural and with the latest release of BERT, we now know that natural is the way to go.
Don’t spend hours trying to figure this all out. Hire a professional SEO writer like me to take care of writing meta data, SEO keyword research and uploading for you.