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 lets 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.

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 70 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.

Title lengths also vary depending on whether you’re on a desktop/laptop or on a phone.

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. Search engines such as Google will 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 or something else 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.

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 comment line.

The Meta Description may be used by search engines as the description of a search result.  

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.

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.

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.

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 comment line.

Meta Keywords are no longer used by search engines and hold no value in modern SEO.  

This feature is disabled by default in All in One SEO.

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