How to Add Meta Descriptions in WordPress

Authored By: James LePage
Published On: July 6, 2020

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In this post we're going to review how to add meta descriptions to WordPress. First, we're going to go over what a meta description is and why you want it. Then, we're going to show you two ways you can add meta descriptions to your WordPress pages and posts. Let’s get into it!

What’s A Meta Description?

In simplest terms, a meta description is the text that displays under a Search engine entry. It gives potential visitors a brief summary of your web page.

How to Add Meta Descriptions in WordPress

As you can see, you have your link, title, and then the meta description in this Google entry.

Typically they should contain your main keyword, and can only be up to 160 characters. If they go over 160 characters, they get cut off at that number.

These descriptions are automatically generated, but typically you want to said it yourself. This allows you to place your keyword as well as create a mini call to action to get more clicks.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important For My WordPress Website?

As we said before, meta descriptions are important for your WordPress website because they lead to more clicks and higher placement.

In basic HTML, they are contained in the head of the web page, easily readable by Google crawlers. (They're used in every major search engine though, which include Yahoo and Bing)

<meta name="description" content="Hi, I'm the text that shows in Google.">

The highlighted HTML code is the meta description for our WordPress blog post: Adding Custom Fonts to Elementor.

While you can add your keyword which may minimally impact your search rankings, meta descriptions in WordPress posts and pages are best used to influence the Clickthrough rate. Think of it as a 160 character elevator pics to potential visitors. If they like it, chances are they'll click on their page. If they don't like it, chances are they'll go ahead and click on another page.

There are tons of studies and best practices that you can use to effectively craft a meta description, all you need to do is search Google and you'll get a ton of results.

Needless to say, you definitely want to add meta descriptions to a WordPress website. This blog post will teach you how to do that.

How to Add Meta Descriptions in WordPress

There are several ways that you can add meta descriptions to your WordPress website. We're going to go over the top two methods of adding them to the site. There are a couple of other ways that we won't cover, but these two should get the job done quickly and easily.

Use A SEO Plugin

The easiest way to add a meta description to a WordPress page or post is through an SEO plugin. You have your choice from dozens of plugins to fulfill this purpose and more. One of our favorite plugins is called Rank Math (it’s free!), and it allows you to add meta descriptions, as well as run other search engine optimization tasks to make your posts more visible.

Let's take a look at how to use Rank Math to add meta descriptions to your WordPress website - In this example we're going to do it for a blog post, but you can do it for any post type/archive/content element.

First, navigate to the Gutenberg editor for this specific post. In this example, we're going to add a meta description to one of our most recent posts called “How To Add Custom Fonts To Elementor”.

Once you're in the Gutenberg editor, click on the Rank Math interface button. The first section allows you to easily edit your meta description. Click the edit snippet button which is blue, Which will toggle the preview snippet editor. In this section, and you can change the title, permalink, and description (With Rank Math, the term description and meta description Is interchangeable).

All you need to do is add in the text that you want to display under the link and title in Google. The meta description is automatically saved as it is entered into the input box. to apply to the post, simply click the publish or update button.

While the process differs slightly for each individual SEO plug-in, adding meta descriptions in WordPress is pretty standard. All you need to do is navigate to the respective area for the SEO plugin In the editing interface, find the input field for meta description, and add your text.

For example, if you are using Yoast for your SEO plugin in WordPress, you can add a meta description In the Gutenberg sidebar (similar process to Rank Math). If you are using All-in-One WP SEO, the meta description input field can be found under the main content in the Gutenberg editor.

Add A Meta Description To WordPress Without A Plugin

You can also add a meta description to your WordPress website without a plugin. In most cases, using an SEO plugin Will save you a lot of time and make the addition of a meta description to your post a lot easier. At the same time, you may not need all the features that this plugin has to offer, and it may bloat your back end and cause it to load slower. Whatever your reasoning for wanting to add a meta description to your WordPress post without a plugin, it's probably reasonable.

The general idea of this method is to inject code into the header of a specific post using a simple PHP code snippet. This code is going to contain your HTML meta description (You can also set a meta title and other attributes using this method).

First, identify the post (by its ID) that you want to add your meta description to. Keep in mind, WordPress views pages and posts (this includes custom post types) the same, so all you need is an ID number.

Do that by clicking on the post, entering the editor, and grabbing the ID from the URL.

Once you have your ID, you can easily add a Code Snippet to manually implement the meta description on this specific post:

function iso_hook_meta() { if (is_page ('2')) { ?> <meta name="description" content="sup"> <?php } } add_action('wp_head', 'iso_hook_meta');

Change the page id and content of the meta description according to your needs.

We like using a plugin called Code Snippets to manage all of our PHP snippets. You can easily manually add a meta description to a specific post by pasting this into a new Snippet and activating it.

If you would like to easily import this to your own website, use this JSON to import it to the code snippets plugin.

Check to see that your description has applied to this specific page by navigating to the dev tools of your respective browser, going into the header HTML, and locating the meta description tag.

You can also use this tool to view the meta description of the page as well. If everything is working, you'll get a check on the meta description test:

You can also manipulate the code snippet to apply a meta description to a range of posts, archives, and more.

You can also use this to manually add a meta description to all WordPress pages and posts (simply added to the general WordPress header without specifying which post it should be applied to). I've seen some requests to do that, and this is the best way.

At the same time, all of this code can actually end up slowing down the front end loading of your website, so we believe that using an SEO plugin is always the best option. We just wanted to offer you a secondary method of adding a meta description to your WordPress website so you have your options.

You may think that this is to much work to manually add meta descriptions to a WordPress post or page. If this is your opinion, using it as SEO plugin Is definitely in your best interest. In most situations, this will probably end up saving you time and be beneficial for your website. You can choose to use Rank Math, or you can also go for a much simpler and more lightweight SEO plugin like:

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Dmitry
Dmitry
2 months ago

Hello!
Now, this is what I have been looking for. Thanks.

According to the study conducted by Moz, Google’s display titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels: https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag

If you’re wondering what character length to follow while writing the Meta Title and Description, it’s ideal to follow the standards kept for mobiles.

Thank you for your hard work.

James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!

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