WordPress SEO Tutorial updated September 2016
This subject is a bit of an SEO joke since Google doesn’t even use these meta tags for ranking purposes, so in some respects optimizing these meta tags is a waste of time. That being said lots of SEO consultants tout various services to optimize meta tags and so I have to cover it here so at least others know not to waste money on SEO services that indicate they will improve your Google rankings using meta tags!
In the last article in my WordPress SEO Tutorial series I covered WordPress SEO Tutorial Title Tag, now I’ll cover the description meta tag and the keywords meta tag with relevance to WordPress.
Lets Have Some Fun With Meta Tags :)
Quite sometime ago search engines like Google were VERY dumb, today they are just slow :) When Google etc… was very dumb the search engine algorithms of the day couldn’t even determine what a page was about from the text content on the page or the links to a page (they were really dumb). Some bright spark came up with the idea of meta tags that would be hidden from the website visitors, but could be used by search engines to rank websites in their search engines.
Meta tags were a great idea IF you believe every website owner would only list relevant keywords within their meta tags: AKA porn websites using high traffic keywords like Disney for high traffic to their porn sites would never happen, it’s immoral!
What were they thinking!
Since the search engines no longer need this hidden meta tag content to determine how a page should be ranked in their search engines and more importantly a small percentage (LOL) of webmasters abuse the content of meta tags, the vast majority of search engines (including all that send reasonable traffic) no longer use meta tags for ranking purposes (they are ignored for ranking purposes).
For this reason you can safely not include a meta description tag or meta key tag on a webpage since it will not have a negative impact on the pages rankings (I’ve added a meta description tag to this article, but not a keywords meta tag).
Interestingly since it’s quite hard to generate meta tags out the box with WordPress the vast majority of WordPress themes don’t even include them. A very popular WordPress plugin called “All In One SEO Pack” creates it’s own meta tags, but if a theme already has them, this results in two sets, so the plugin developer has had to assume most themes don’t have these meta tags. Stallion Responsive includes a form for adding meta description and meta keywords tags for each post and page and for the home page, categories and tags.
That being said, the meta description tag does still have a potential ‘SEO’ use since Google will sometimes use the content of the meta description tag as the description for a Google SERP. Again this does not have any impact on where in a SERP a page will land, however if the description is more enticing to a potential visitor than a random description from a page then it could result in more click through traffic from Google.
Your not going to get better rankings, but you might get more clicks with the current rankings.
With this in mind and knowing most WordPress users aren’t going to like not having meta keywords tag despite being told it’s a waste of time, (so much misinformation out there in forums etc…) Stallion Responsive include both a meta description tag and meta keywords tag options.
WordPress SEO Meta Tags Optimization
If you plan to create unique meta tags for posts etc… see the meta description tag as an ad, if you are good at writing ads you might find a well crafted meta description tag could result in a higher click thru rate from Google etc…
If you don’t include a meta description tag Google etc… will still generate a SERPs description for your pages based on what Google thinks is the best description from the content on the page. Google tends to find content from a page that includes the phrase searched for and uses it for the SERPs description.
There are many more meta tags in existence, but none of them have much use for WordPress blogs and none of them increase a pages rankings in a search engine. There are meta tags that can block a pages spidering/indexing, if you’d like to know about these please see Meta Tags Optimization.