What is SEO meta?

Search engines rely on website owners to provide them with information called meta data about their site and content.  Here we will review the main SEO meta data that search engines look for and All in One SEO Pack let’s you manage.

SEO Title (aka Title tag)

The SEO Title or Title tag (we use this term interchangeably in our documentation) that appears in the source code of your webpage looks like this:

<title>My Site Title</title>

The Title tag is usually displayed at the top of the source code for a webpage and is wrapped in the <title> HTML tag.

The Title tag is used by search engines as the title of a search result.  You can see in the example from Google search results below that the title is displayed as “Blackbaud Website Package | Blackbaud” and below the screenshot of the Google search results you can see the Title tag as it appears in the source code of our website.

<title>Blackbaud Website Package | Blackbaud</title>

SEO Title Length

Most search engines place a limit on the number of characters that they display in search results.  This limit is typically between 60 and 71 characters in length. This means that a title that exceeds the characters limit will be cut off with a …

Google does not limit by the number of characters, instead they limit by the total pixel width of the title. This means that a title that is typed in all CAPS would take up more space because the characters are wider and therefore less characters would be displayed in Google search results.

General guidance regarding titles is to keep them short and descriptive.  Remember that when you perform a search on Google or Bing you use the title that is displayed for each result to make a decision as to which site to visit.  A poor title typically results in the visitor returning to the search results and trying a different site.

SEO Title Uniqueness

Every SEO Title on your site should be unique because each page of content on your site should be unique.  Search engines may penalize you for having duplicate Title tags.  SEO Titles should be unique across all content including Pages, Posts, Categories, Tags, etc. meaning that the Title tag for a Page should not be the same as the Title tag for a Post or a Category.

Search Engines use of SEO Titles

Despite the fact that you may set a unique title for each page of content, search engines do not have to use your title when displaying search results.  There has been a recent trend with search engines such as Google where they decide what to display as the title in search results, they can choose to display your Title tag or they can choose to display the H1 heading tag from your webpage.

It is important to remember that you cannot force search engines to display exactly what you want them to display.  They will display what they feel is best for their users and they can change what they display whenever they want, they are not beholden to you, they are beholden to the users of their search engine.

Setting your Homepage SEO Title

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Title for the homepage of your site. To do this follow the Home Page Settings documentation. The homepage SEO Title is always treated differently in All in One SEO Pack. You set the title under All in One SEO, General Settings, Home Page Settings, Home Title and not on the actual page. We also do not append anything to the homepage Title tag, we only output exactly what you type in the Home Title field. If you do not set an SEO Title for your homepage then we will, by default, use your Site Title followed by your Site Tagline, these are set in WordPress under Settings, General.

Setting the SEO Title for a Post

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Title for each Post on your site.  To do this follow the Post Settings documentation. We will append your Site Title after the SEO Title if you have the default SEO Title Formats set (see Controlling the Format of SEO Titles below). If you do not set an SEO Title for a Post then we will, by default, use the title of that post as the SEO Title.

Setting the SEO Title for a Page

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Title for each Page on your site.  To do this follow the Page Settings documentation. We will append your Site Title after the SEO Title if you have the default SEO Title Formats set (see Controlling the Format of SEO Titles below). If you do not set an SEO Title for a Page then we will, by default, use the title of that page as the SEO Title.

Controlling the Format of SEO Titles

You can control the format of your SEO Titles using All in One SEO Pack.   To do this follow the Title Settings documentation. By default, we will append your Site Title after the SEO Title. Your site title is set in WordPress under Settings, General.


SEO Description (aka Meta Description)

The SEO Description or Meta Description (we use this term interchangeably in our documentation) that appears in the source code of your webpage looks like this:

<meta name="description" content="This is my description that will appear in search results." />

The Meta Description is usually displayed in the source code for a webpage below the All in One SEO Pack comment line.

The Meta Description is used by search engines as the description of a search result.  You can see in the example from Google search results below that the description is displayed as “The Blackbaud Website Package solution is engineered as the turnkey solution to help you achieve more giving. High-impact organizations choose Blackbaud.” and below the screenshot of the Google search results you can see the Meta Description as it appears in the source code of the Blackbaud website.

<meta name="description" content="All in One SEO Pack Pro optimizes your WordPress website or blog for search engines. All in One SEO Pack Pro includes use on unlimited WordPress sites and" />

SEO Description Length

Most search engines place a limit on the number of characters that they display in search results.  This limit is typically around 160 characters in length but can be as much as 320 characters. A description that exceeds 160 characters in length may be cut off with a … 

General guidance regarding SEO Descriptions is to keep them descriptive.  Remember that when you perform a search on Google or Bing you use the title and the description that is displayed for each result to make a decision as to which site to visit.  A poor description typically results in the visitor returning to the search results and trying a different site.

SEO Description Uniqueness

Every SEO Description on your site should be unique because each page of content on your site should be unique.  Search engines may penalize you for having duplicate Meta Descriptions.  SEO Descriptions should be unique across all content including Pages, Posts, Categories, Tags, etc. meaning that the Meta Description for a Page should not be the same as the Meta Description for a Post or a Category.

You can monitor duplicate Meta Description warnings by using Google Webmaster Tools. You will find these warnings under Search Appearance, HTML Improvements.

Search Engines use of SEO Description

Despite the fact that you may set a unique description for each page of content, search engines do not have to use your Meta Description when displaying search results.  Google has always decided whether to display the description you provide or display some content from your webpage instead. They do this on a case by case basis depending on the term that is being searched for and whether it appears in your Meta Description or in your content.

It is important to remember that you cannot force search engines to display exactly what you want them to display.  They will display what they feel is best for their users and they can change what they display whenever they want, they are not beholden to you, they are beholden to the users of their search engine.

Setting your Homepage SEO Description

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Description for the homepage of your site. To do this follow the Home Page Settings documentation. The homepage SEO Description is always treated differently in All in One SEO Pack. You set the description under All in One SEO, General Settings, Home Page Settings, Home Description and not on the actual page. We only output exactly what you type in the Home Description field. We will not auto generate the Meta Description for your homepage, you must set the Meta Description yourself using the Home Description field.

Setting the SEO Description for a Post

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Description for each Post on your site.  To do this follow the Post Settings documentation. If you do not set an SEO Description for a Post then we will, by default, not display a Meta Description for that Post. You can choose to have All in One SEO Pack automatically generate your Meta Description for you. To do this go to All in One SEO, General Settings, Advanced Settings and check the Autogenerate Descriptions checkbox. Enabling this feature will result in All in One SEO Pack using your Post Excerpt or the first 160 characters from your Post content if you have not created a Post Excerpt. It is recommended, however, that you hand craft each SEO Description on your site.

Setting the SEO Description for a Page

You can use All in One SEO Pack to set the SEO Description for each Page on your site.  To do this follow the Page Settings documentation. If you do not set an SEO Description for a Page then we will, by default, not display a Meta Description for that Page. You can choose to have All in One SEO Pack automatically generate your Meta Description for you. To do this go to All in One SEO, General Settings, Advanced Settings and check the Autogenerate Descriptions checkbox. Enabling this feature will result in All in One SEO Pack using the first 160 characters from your Page content. It is recommended, however, that you hand craft each SEO Description on your site.

Controlling the Format of SEO Descriptions

You can control the format of your SEO Descriptions using All in One SEO Pack. To do this follow the Title Settings documentation. By default, we do not append anything after your SEO Description.


SEO Keywords (aka Meta Keywords)

The SEO Keywords or Meta Keywords (we use this term interchangeably in our documentation) that appears in the source code of your webpage looks like this:

<meta name="keywords" itemprop="keywords" content="Keyword1, Keyword2, Keyword3, Keyword4" />

Meta Keywords are usually displayed in the source code for a webpage below the All in One SEO Pack comment line.

Meta Keywords are no longer used by search engines and hold no value in modern SEO.  We recommend disabling keywords sitewide by going to All in One SEO, General Settings, Keyword Settings and selecting Disabled next to Use Keywords.  This will enable you to focus on meta that is important and which search engines do use.

Should you wish to use Meta Keywords you can learn more by reading our documentation on Keyword Settings.