Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of online marketing, and while it can potentially be complex, there are some fundamentals that aren’t all that tricky to grasp. Apart from the all-important step of quality content creation (which you can read more about here: Caring for Your WordPress Website), a great way to start is setting metadata for your pages and posts.
What in the world is “metadata”?
Metadata, when talking about SEO, is information or data on your site that is not directly visible on your pages or posts, but which can be used for various purposes by browsers, search engines, and other programs. In WordPress, it’s not necessary to set your own metadata (you get a basic meta title automatically, as we’ll discuss later), but there are a couple of useful purposes it can serve, particularly when it comes to SEO. And thankfully, in WordPress, setting metadata is a cinch. So, let’s go over the various forms of metadata that you might have some questions about.
What’s a meta title and how do I set one?
The title is probably the most important form of web metadata there is. It is strongly linked to your search engine ranking, and the title of your web page in search results is derived from its meta title. It also determines the name that displays in your browser tab, and the default title that comes up when someone bookmarks the page.
Here’s an image demonstrating how a meta title and description will display on a Google search results page (we’ll discuss the description in a bit):
By default, your meta title is generally the title that you’ve given your post or page in WordPress. This is usually fine, but sometimes you may want to customize your meta title for SEO reasons. And thankfully, it’s easy to do. On your post/page edit screen, scroll down to the Theme SEO Settings section. There, you will see a box labeled Document Title. Simply enter your desired title into that box. (Again, we’ll cover “Meta Description” in a minute.)
How can I write a good meta title?
A major reason to set a meta title is to tailor your page’s SEO, so it’s an excellent idea to incorporate keywords that are relevant to your business and the customers you want to target. This may help your page to rank on those terms and will also make it clear to users what your site and its pages are about.
Of course, you want to include these keywords in a clear and sensible way – just “throwing them in” will look odd and potentially off-putting to users, and will probably not actually help your SEO.
Remember that search engines will cut off long titles, so it’s best to include the most important keywords or elements of your title early on to ensure that users see them.
Also, be sure to use good grammar and title casing (capitalize each major word), and check your spelling.
Alright…can you give me some examples of good meta titles?
- Town Center NC Area Real Estate | RE/MAX Town Center
- Town Center NC Commercial Real Estate | Noel Jenkins | RE/MAX Town Center
Now what about some examples of what I shouldn’t do?
- town center nc area real estate, town center nc homes for sale, town center nc properties (overly long, redundant, not capitalized properly, does not contain any reference to the agent or office)
- Real Estate in North Caroilna (not specific enough, does not contain any reference to the agent or office, contains a spelling error)
What about a meta description? And how do I set one of those?
You’ll notice that search engines list not only the title of a page, but also a short description or excerpt. If you want to influence what’s shown there, you’ll want to use meta descriptions.
Setting a meta description is just as easy as setting a meta title. Simply use the field named Meta Description that you’ll find just beneath the Document Title section on your post/page edit screen.
A couple of quick facts about meta descriptions:
- Ultimately, what Google (or any other search engine) uses as a description of the page is up to them. Google often uses the meta description if it’s provided, but for reasons that are probably only known internally to Google, there are occasions when it doesn’t. Don’t worry about it too much, though. It’s not very likely to happen and not the end of the world if it does.
- Content in your meta description is not used directly as a ranking factor by Google, but it can still benefit your search engine presence by making users more likely to click on your site when it appears.
How can I write a good meta description?
Writing a custom meta description can be a great idea for describing your page to users and encouraging them to visit. Write text that clearly conveys the purpose of the page and why users would want to go there. Convey what users can do on the page and what practical things they can gain from it, such as seeing properties in an area they’re interested in, or gaining valuable real estate information. To make sense and remain readable, meta descriptions should consist of 1-2 complete sentences. Using a few keywords is a good idea, but again, incorporate them naturally.
So, what are some examples of good meta descriptions?
- Noel Jenkins is your resource for commercial properties in Town Center NC, Plaza City NC, and surrounding areas.
- Find homes for sale in the Town Center NC metro area with our IDX search. Contact Noel Jenkins today for more info.
Now how about some bad examples?
- noel jenkins has the best town center properties for sale condos real estate CLICK HERE NOW! (Bad grammar and punctuation, redundant, keyword stuffing, obnoxious, lack of complete sentences)
- Buy North Carolina homes. (Not specific enough, uninformative)
Meta keywords – Don’t bother
You might be curious about the next field, labeled “Meta Keywords”. Meta keywords are another type of metadata, but for a long time, search engines have stopped caring about them. You can probably guess why – it was too easy to abuse this feature. Anyone can put whatever keywords they want here, regardless of how relevant they are. Therefore, we recommend you don’t bother with this section.
On a similar note, some users try to increase their SEO by adding keywords to their WordPress’ tags section, but this is also completely unhelpful, because the WordPress tags feature is not even intended for this purpose. These tags simply exist to keep your site organized. Therefore, we recommend you don’t do this either. An example of this undesired behavior is below:
Where can I learn more?
Check out the following links: