How to Improve the Meta Descriptions in Your Blog’s Design

A meta description is a short paragraph that search engines use to describe some part of your blog — a single post, a page, or the entire blog. One important component of search engine optimization (SEO) is letting readers know where they should be going. Although meta descriptions don’t affect search engine rankings, they do help a search engine associate the topics its users are searching for, with specific pages.

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Here’s a search result for Twitter Name Change Checklist. A meta description was added to this particular blog post. That description shows up here in black text, following the date the post was published. The meta description reinforces the relevance of the post to search engine users.

What to include in your blog’s meta descriptions

When writing meta descriptions, be sure to use relevant keywords and keep the description to 150 characters. A meta description can be longer, but search engines show only a limited number of characters, followed by an ellipsis to substitute for the rest.

When a blog post or page omits meta descriptions, the search engine defaults to the first sentences from your post or page for their descriptions. When the entire site omits a meta description, it defaults to the first sentences from your most recent blog post, which could become confusing.

Imagine for example, if you started a post with something like, “I’m so happy to be back from vacation,” although your blog is about cooking and sharing recipes.

Add meta descriptions to your blog’s design

In Blogger, you can add a meta description for your entire blog by going to Settings→Search Preferences→Meta Tags→Description, and then clicking Edit to enter your description. To change the meta description for individual posts or pages, go to your Post Editor and then click Search Description under Post Settings.

With WordPress.org, the default installation doesn’t include meta description data, which may mean you have to add a meta description directly into your HTML files. One way to add a meta description for your overall blog and for individual posts is to use a theme that has settings for meta descriptions.

For example, the Genesis theme adds a Theme SEO Settings section under each post and page so that you can enter those meta descriptions.

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If your theme doesn’t include SEO options, plug-ins make it easy for you to optimize your site and your posts. Check out these popular WordPress SEO plug-ins: WordPress All-in-One SEO Pack; SEO Ultimate; HeadSpace2 SEO; and WordPress SEO plug-in by Yoast. The figure depicts WordPress SEO showing you a Snippet Preview, and giving you character counts for SEO Title (title tag) and meta description.

Don’t worry about adding meta descriptions to every single post — like, for instance, a post about your birthday. Just optimize the ones with search engine ranking potential.

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