This subject is a bit of an SEO joke since Google doesn’t use any meta tags for ranking purposes, so in some respects optimizing these meta tags is a waste of time.
WordPress SEO Tutorial updated December 2019
That being said lots of SEO consultants tout various services to optimize the keywords meta tags and description meta tags and so I have to cover it here so at least others know not to waste money on SEO services that indicate they will improve your Google rankings using meta tags!
In the last article in my WordPress SEO Tutorial series I covered WordPress SEO Tutorial Title Tag, now I’ll cover the description meta tag and the keywords meta tag with relevance to WordPress.
Lets Have Some Fun With Meta Tags :)
Quite sometime ago search engines like Google were VERY dumb, today they are just slow :) When Google etc… was very dumb the search engine algorithms of the day couldn’t even determine what a page was about from the text content on the page or the links to a page (they were really dumb).
Some bright spark came up with the idea of meta tags that would be hidden from the website visitors, but could be used by search engines to rank websites in their search engines.
Meta tags were a great idea IF you believe every website owner would only list relevant keywords within their meta tags: AKA porn websites using high traffic keywords like Disney for high traffic to their porn sites would never happen, it’s immoral!
What were they thinking!
Since the search engines no longer need the hidden meta tag content to determine how a page should be ranked in their search engines and more importantly a small percentage (LOL) of webmasters abuse the content of meta tags, the vast majority of search engines (including all that send reasonable traffic) no longer use meta tags for ranking purposes (they are ignored for ranking purposes).
For this reason you can safely not include a meta description tag or meta key tag on a webpage since it will not have a negative impact on the pages direct rankings.
Note: I’ve added a meta description tag to this article, but not a keywords meta tag.
It’s quite hard to generate meta tags out of the box with WordPress, the vast majority of WordPress themes don’t include them. Take into account if you install a WordPress plugin to include meta tags always double check the actual HTML code (view it’s source) to make sure you do NOT have duplicate meta tags.
Most WordPress SEO Plugin developers like the popular “All In One SEO Pack Plugin” and “Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin” include meta tags and they assume there aren’t other sources of meta tags (added my a theme or another plugin for example). So always double check for duplicates.
Should WordPress Users Care About Description Meta Tag?
The meta description tag does still have a potential ‘SEO’ use since Google will sometimes use the content of the meta description tag as the description for a Google SERP.
The Meta Description Tag added via the Stallion WordPress SEO Plugin matches the description Google is using for the “SEO Tutorial” Search.
A specific description can be more enticing vs a random snippet chosen by Google.
Again this does NOT have any impact on where in a SERP a page will land, however if the description is more enticing to a potential visitor than a random description from a webpage then it could result in a higher click through traffic from Google.
Your not going to get better rankings, but you might get more clicks with the current rankings. Consider the meta description tag as ad copy, this is where you try to convince a Google user your webpage at number 3 in a SERP is a better choice than the results above it.
Should WordPress Users Care About Keywords Meta Tag?
Google completely ignores the keywords meta tag, it has ZERO ranking value. Since it has no value, you should NOT include the keywords meta tags on your WordPress site.
Not that many years ago all the major WordPress SEO plugins like Yoast SEO and All In One SEO included the meta keywords tag as an option, this was despite the fact Google has NEVER used the meta keywords tag as part of their organic search engine ranking algorithm.
Google was never that dumb, Google used PageRank as it’s unique selling point.
As I update this article in December 2019, the goods news is most WordPress SEO plugin developers have finally clicked on the meta keywords tag is ignored by Google and they’ve dropped it from their plugins. Yeah.
WordPress SEO Meta Tags Optimization
If you plan to create unique description meta tags for WordPress Posts etc… see the meta description tag as an ad, if you are good at writing ads you might find a well crafted meta description tag could result in a higher click thru rate from Google etc…
If you don’t include a meta description tag Google etc… will still generate a SERPs description for your pages based on what Google thinks is the best description from the content on the page. Google tends to find content from a page that includes the phrase searched for and uses it for the SERPs description.
There are many more meta tags in existence, but the majority of them have no value for WordPress blogs and none of them increase a webpages rankings in a search engine.