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We get a lot of questions regarding Meta Descriptions, how to create them in All in One SEO Pack and the way that search engines (especially Google) handle them. It is important to note that no plugin can force search engines such as Google to display something in the search results that they don’t want to display. Google may decide it will use it’s own description based on the term that has been searched for and the relevant content on your site. More often, their description will be more relevant to the searcher than a Meta Description you write.
Your Meta Description serves two purposes:
- It tells search engines what each page of content is about
- It shows up in search results, which tells people what your content is about
Your Meta Description doesn’t actually affect your placement or ranking in the search engine results, but it is extremely important for what appears on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The Meta Description is what people see and it helps them determine whether or not to visit your site. Remember, high rankings are meaningless if nobody clicks on the links because the description isn’t appropriate or is meaningless.
Quality Guidelines for Meta Descriptions
Google has some important quality guidelines for meta descriptions. Complying with these is very important in increases the chance that they will use your meta description. Here are their guidelines:
- Make sure every page of content (this includes pages, posts and custom post types) has a meta description.
- Each meta description must be unique, absolutely no duplicates are permitted.
- Each meta description should be less than 160 characters long (All in One SEO Pack has a character counter and visual color warning to help you comply).
- Descriptions must be descriptive, avoid keyword stuffing.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools (under Search Appearance, HTML Improvements) to check for quality issues.
Here is a link to the full quality guide posted by Google – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35624?hl=en
Meta Description Advanced Settings
You can find some settings for meta descriptions by going to All in One SEO > General Settings > Advanced Settings. Please read the Advanced Settings documentation for information on these settings.