Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

Niels Neumann Last updated 10.11.2021
7 Min.
meta description wordpress SEO tips
Last updated 10.11.2021

This article deals with an important topic in search engine optimization (SEO), namely the optimization of your meta description. In this article, you'll learn what you need to consider and how you can store and change the meta description in WordPress.

What is the meta description?

The meta description belongs to the so-called snippet. In this case, snippet stands for the preview of a website in the results pages of search engines such as Google, Bing and Co. The best-known parts of the snippet are the metadata. These are URL, title tag and meta description. The snippet can also be extended with further data (rich snippets), however. The date of creation, ratings, prices, etc. can be displayed, for example.  

The meta description is a short description of the content of a website. At first glance, this description isn't visible to visitors to your website because when you open a web page, the meta description isn't displayed. When you do a Google search, however, you'll see the meta description in the search results under the respective title of the website. In addition to the title, the meta description provides a brief summary of the content in the Google search results.

Meta description appearance

This is what the meta description looks like in the search results:

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

At the top you see the page title, the so-called title tag. Below the title tag is the meta description. If the entered search term is present in the meta description, the keyword is highlighted in bold. This emphasizes the relevance for the searcher.

Aim of the meta description

As mentioned above, the meta description is only displayed in the search results. If users search Google for certain search terms, they have to select the right search result for them from the results displayed. The meta description therefore helps to decide whether the desired content is hidden behind the displayed search result. 

If you have your own website, it's therefore important that the meta description – in addition to the title tag – ensures that the displayed search result is clicked and that your website gets visitors. You'll find out how to write click-strong meta descriptions in a moment.

Meta description – a ranking factor?

Maybe you're wondering if the meta description is a ranking factor? The answer is: "Not exactly but maybe it is". Unfortunately, it's pretty confusing. The meta description itself is not added as a ranking factor by Google. This has been the case since 2009. However, click-through rates (CTR) could be a ranking factor. With a good meta description, a website will also get a better click-through rate. If you want to know more about CTR as a ranking factor, you can read this article by Search Engine Journal.

Keyword stuffing in the meta description, i.e. using a keyword repeatedly, does not improve your ranking. Nevertheless, the keyword should of course appear in the meta description. More on this in a moment.

Tips for the right keyword research

We explain step by step how to research the right keywords for your content in our article "Keyword research for SEO success".

Automatic generation of the meta description

If you don't define a meta description, Google will generate a meta description on its own based on your website texts. This could be the first lines of text on site, for example. It therefore makes sense to create a meta description yourself so it's not left to chance. 

Another case where Google generates a meta description itself can be certain search terms for which Google considers the existing meta description to be irrelevant and therefore generates its own meta description. 

In the following section, you'll learn how to write a click-worthy meta description and what you need to pay attention to.

How to write a good meta description

Optimum length

The meta description should be between 150 and 160 characters long. Spaces are also included. If you exceed this length, your meta description will be abbreviated with "...". In this case, a longer description brings no added value.

To find the right length for your meta description (and title tags), you can use the Character Counter tool or the SERP Snippet Generator from Sistrix. 

Text optimization

  • Arouse the interest of users. Why should Google users visit your website? What differentiates your offer from your competitors? What do visitors learn on your site? What is someone looking for when they enter the keyword?
  • Try to write the meta description as short as possible and at the same time with a lot of content. In other words, be as concise as possible. If there's a way to explain something simply, use it.
  • The meta description is the description of the site. Content that you describe in the meta description should also actually appear on the respective site.  
  • There should be no duplicates on your entire website, i.e. all sub-pages. Each page is unique and should therefore also have a unique description.
  • Use active rather than passive language as this is more engaging. 
  • Use special characters and emojis. This allows you to make your meta descriptions even more appealing. For example, the check character and emoji are often used. 
  • For an online shop, for example, you can mention product features in the meta description of the product pages.

In the following, I'd like to show you three examples of well-written meta descriptions.

  1. First, an example with special characters such as arrows and ticks:
Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

Here is an example of a meta description that arouses curiosity and addresses the search intention:

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

Finally, an example of the use of emojis in the meta description. The color also attracts more attention.

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

Next, I'll show you how to create meta descriptions for individual subpages in WordPress.

Change meta description in WordPress

With the help of SEO plugins, you can create your meta descriptions and optimize your content for the search engines with just a few clicks in WordPress. If you're not sure which SEO tool is the right one for you, take a look at the article "Yoast vs Rank Math: WordPress SEO plugins compared". 

Instructions for Yoast:

Yoast SEO shows you a preview of the site in the search results. Yoast is not only available for WordPress, but also for Typo3. Yoast also shows you the optimal length of the title tag and the meta description.

First you have to go to the WordPress backend to the respective site (or post) where you want to edit the meta description. You can either edit the meta description using the button in the top right corner with the "Yoast" symbol. Or you can edit the meta description by scrolling down on the site page.

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For
1. click on the Yoast icon in the top right corner
Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For
2. Now you can add the SEO title and meta description

Instructions for Rank Math

Editing the meta description in Rank Math is similar to editing in Yoast. In the backend of the respective page, you can click on the button with the score in the upper right corner and the Rank Math menu opens. There you can edit the snippet; it works in the same way as in Yoast.

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For
1. Click on the Rank Math Score in the upper right corner

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For
2. Now you can add title and meta description

Further optimizations 

Rich snippets

If you want to further optimize your snippets in addition to the meta description and have already optimized the title tag, you should look into rich snippets. Rich snippets are additional information that's presented in the search results. What possibilities do rich snippets offer? With rich snippets you can, for example, directly display ratings, price information or author information in the search results.

Social media

If you want to adapt the metadata of your website for social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., you can do this with the help of the social media tags. You can also edit these in Yoast and Rank Math.

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For
Social Media Snippet Editor in Rank Math
yoast social media snippet editor
Social Media Snippet Editor in Yoast

Tip: Facebook Sharing Debugger

If you have problems displaying your snippet on Facebook, I recommend using the Facebook Debug Tool. First enter the URL of your site and then go to "Debug".

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For


If you're not shown the current meta information (e.g. an old image or an old title) when sharing the link on Facebook, click on "Scrape again" to update the data.

Optimize and Change your Meta Description in WordPress: What to Watch Out For

Final thoughts

Tweaking your meta descriptions is an important part of any search engine optimization. Although the meta description doesn't directly influence the ranking, it's important for the click-through rates in the search results. Now you know how to write click-strong meta descriptions that'll bring you more visitors to your sites. I hope you have a lot of fun with the optimization! 🙂

Niels is a specialist in local search engine optimization and Google Ads. Besides working as a freelancer for several online marketing agencies, he also creates campaigns and websites for his own clients.

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