Recently, we did a post about Google’s snippets stating that out site will soon be the most read site in the SEO World. Not many people can claim that Google says that about their site.
As I pointed out in the discussion, this results from the way that Google builds it’s snippets. Google first looks to find text on your page that contains the actual user search query, or something quite close to it. If it does not find such a string of text, it will consider using an ODP description for your page (if there is one) or your meta description tag.
If Google cannot find either one of these, then it creates the best snippet it can using text it finds on your page. So then I received a link from a post by Steve Mertz where he clearly explains that the way to avoid Google using bad descriptions for your web page is to write a compelling meta description.
And Steve is right. As long as Google does not decide to build its description of your page based on the search query itself (usually because it cannot find the exact phrase), your meta description can be the message that people see about your site.
So this set me to thinking about implementing meta description tags within WordPress. Turns out that it is not easy. I went to the WordPress plugins directory and started checking out all the plugins in the “metadata” section.
I was looking for one that would allow me to custom write my own meta description. Most of the plugins don’t support this. They will auto construct the meta description from the beginning text of your post. Since I had gotten up the energy to solve the problem at all, I decided that I wanted to solve it well. This meant that I was committing to writing a custom meta description for each post.
After about an hour or so of research, I settled on Another WordPress Meta plugin. This was the only one I found that would allow me to write a custom meta description for each post. So I installed it.
Installation was easy. Operation is easy too. Just below the text for each post is a box that provides a text edit box for the meta description, and another one for meta keywords. A minute or two of extra work for each post. Piece of cake.
One downside though. If you don’t write a custom meta description the plugin will use the same meta description as you have for the home page for your blog. Great to have a fallback that is probably a decent description of the blog as a whole, but it potentially adds to duplicate content concerns.
In addition, it automatically implements this meta description on all your historical posts. So I spent a couple of hours today going through all my old posts writing a custom description for them. But what the hell, when you get around to addressing problems like these, you might as well address it completely. Probably means that I will soon lose that great description from Google soon though …
UPDATE: I received a comment from Uberdose (see below), the publisher of “Another WordPress Meta Plugin” that they have removed the feature of automatically using the home page post on all of the historical posts, thus eliminating the duplicate content problem I eluded to above. This is a great improvement on this tool, making it even better.