A lot our articles are written in response to emails and questions we receive from friends and clients. This is one of those articles.
I’m working on SEO [Search Engine Optimization] for my WordPress site. If I stick description and keyword metadata into my header.php file will I break my site? It seems like a simple place to start.
You won’t break the site, but I wouldn’t recommend adding metadata that way. Here’s why…
The way WordPress is designed, the header.php file is used for all of the pages on your site. Using the same metadata for each and every page won’t serve you well. Each of your pages has a different message and your metadata should reflect those differences.
For example, I wouldn’t want to tell the search engines that our about page was about ‘creative services for indie business’, because it’s not. It’s about Matt and I: how we started out, why we do what we do, and some other general silliness. I would, however, want to use that description for our home page.
In addition to duplicate meta, depending on what theme you’re using, your edits may disappear when the theme files update.
So, how can you ensure that each of your pages / posts is optimized for search?
Many WordPress frameworks build custom SEO fields into each page / post. Since you asked about adding metadata to your header.php file, you’re most likely not using an optimized framework, so an SEO plugin is what you’re after.
Although we haven’t used all of these plugins extensively, we have had experience with them or know folks who have used them with great success:
- FV Simpler SEO
Just as the name implies, this plugin is simple to configure and use – even for beginners.
- All in One SEO Pack
This is probably the most popular SEO plugin. If your understanding of SEO is a bit more advanced, you’re going to enjoy the capabilities.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
This plugin, created by the team at Yoast, is considered by many to be the ultimate SEO plugin.
Each of those SEO plugins will allow you to enter unique page titles and metadata for each of your pages / posts, which will be of far greater value than simply adding generic terms and descriptions across your site.
Keep in mind that metadata is just one piece of the SEO puzzle. There are a few more simple changes you can make to your site to enhance search engine friendliness that we’ll discuss in future posts.