In the past year, I started checking my blog posts against the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. It provides great suggestions for improving readability and quality of writing, as well as making blog posts friendlier for search engines and social network sharing. It also has a cryptic suggestion about “no meta description”.
Here is the cryptic suggestion in full:
No meta description has been specified, search engines will display copy from the page instead.
The reason it’s cryptic is that setting the meta description for a post is neither part of WordPress core functionality, nor something Yoast visible exposes in its own extended interface. There are WordPress plugins of questionable provenance for setting post meta descriptions, but installing small WordPress plugins only increases your blog’s attack surface for hackers.
Since I blog infrequently, every time I end up searching for what it is Yoast wants me to do to satisfy and dismiss the warning.
How to set meta description
It turns out that the ability to set a meta description is built into Yoast. It is simply hidden behind the seemingly unrelated “Edit Snippet” button. If you click on it, you can set the meta description and dismiss the stern warning.
One of the reasons I started using Yoast SEO is that my colleague Antonio Cangiano has written a blog and a book about Technical Blogging. I read it some time ago on my Kindle and found it a pretty good read.