Meta Titles and Descriptions — Controlling What Google shows
Your meta title and description together create what is know as a “snippet” — that’s what shows in Google if you rank for a query. A person searching in Google is normally looking for answers. In this example, our searcher is looking for “on page SEO”.
SEOPress will show in a box — just below the blog editing box — an example of this preview. If this is blank — just save your post — it needs the post saved to show anything (and you need to save again if you update the post).
When your blog is initially setup there is a default specified for both your meta title and meta description — the default is normally the “post title — site name” and description defaults to the first few words in your post. Here’s an example from this blog post of those defaults:
The defaults are not ideal in this case. Although the titles and first few words of the post are fine for readers already on the blog, I need to rewrite them for those who may see the blog post on Google as a result of a search.
You will also see further down the screen big red crosses where no custom title or description have been set. You don’t always have to rewrite these — but you may want to so that:
- Your title is 60 characters or less.
- Your description is 160 characters or less so they both display completely in search results.
- You want your keywords to appear in both the title and meta description.
- Sometimes the first words in the post — although relevant to the blog reader already on your site, e.g. our caveat about SEOPress Pro or maybe a statement like “This post was updated in October 2019 to reflect new legislation” are NOT what you want to show on a search result. Instead you want something that will entice the searcher on Google to click on your link and not your competitor’s.
How to Fix your Meta Title and Meta Description.
This is the easy part! Click on either the title or description box and write better words! I ended up with:
SEOPress will confirm that you have this right. First you MUST save (or update) your post after these rewrites. Then make sure your main keyword is entered in the “target keyword” box.
If all has gone well, you will be looking for 2 green ticks at the bottom of the SEO box:
And your job is done!
NB: If you don’t change the title and description – because you are happy with them – do NOT worry that you have red crosses, not green ticks. All the ticks mean is that your wrote a custom title/description
Note for the hyphen obsessed editors among you
As far a SEOPress is concerned “on page SEO” is NOT the same as “on-page SEO”. My understanding is that as far as Google is concerned they ARE the same — in keywords Google ignores punctuation and capitalisation. Whether you optimise for on-page SEO or on page SEO doesn’t matter to Google — it may matter to your editor! I’d go with the editor on this one — they are scarier!