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Allow editing of page title and meta description (SEO)

May 24, 2019 · 07:51 · 1stepforward
Description

The ability to edit the page title and meta description is a fundamental aspect of SEO. Both of these elements combined help with search engine ranking and click through rate. At present, it is only possible to edit these two key elements by installing a plugin.

However, as they are so important to SEO, I feel it would be of great benefit to all if the ability to edit the page title and meta description was made part of the CP core. In my view, this should be an essential feature of any business-focused CMS.

If this feature were to be implemented, the SEO page title could default to the ClassicPress page title + site title and the meta description to the first 155-160 characters of the page content or excerpt.

There could also be a setting and/or filter to globally disable this feature as and when required (e.g. if installing a SEO plugin).

Voters
+16 more
Discussion
Jason

The problem I see with this though is that the majority of people will still install an SEO plugin, so all you are doing is adding extra code into the core that will be redundant for the majority of users, unless you are going to add a full SEO package into the core, which would make installing a plugin un-necessary

1stepforward

At present, SEO plugins are a real problem for CP. We can no longer consider Yoast as the go-to SEO plugin and there are very few others that have what it takes. Having this key feature built into the core does away with any dependency on third parties. As I said in my description, any core facility should have the option to be disabled should the user install a plugin.

James Nylen

My opinion:

Titles should be consistent across the whole site. The browser title for an individual post should be something like "Site Name - Post Title" or whatever order or convention you prefer, where "Post Title" is the same thing that appears in the h1 tag.

ClassicPress already provides the tools to manage page titles, though they are a bit clunky.

The meta description should probably be based on the excerpt field of the post by default. I can see a bit more of a case for editing this one, but we do already have a field in the post object that I think fits pretty well here.

1stepforward

I think flexibility and choice are key here. I definitely would want the ability to edit the SEO title and meta description myself and for it not to be forced upon me. The post title or h1 may already contain Site Name, or it may be too long or too short, or it may contain stop words (which I accept is a bit of a contentious issue) . Equally, not everyone uses the excerpt field - especially on pages (not posts) - and again, the excerpt could be too long or too short. I do a lot of SEO so having the freedom to do things my way is very important.

Tim Kaye

As @James Nylen said, titles should normally be consistent across the whole site. If there is a particular reason for a change, then that's definitely an atypical usage, especially on a business site. So this doesn't look right for core to me. It's plugin territory.

1stepforward

@Tim Kaye There may be any number of reasons for wanting to edit the title and meta description such as when the page title or excerpt is too long or too short. Not everyone wants the bloat of SEO plugins. Personally, I use Yoast mainly for editing the page title and meta description as well as generating the XML sitemap. I generally don't need all the other features. All that would be needed is two extra text fields on the edit page.

Jesse

A small part of me understands the frustration, but ultimately I do not believe anything beyond the normal H1 title should be included in Core. Why? Because SEO optimization is not part of the CMS, it is for third parties like Google and really goes beyond the scope of "minimal" feature requirements.

I do, however, agree with what @James touched upon, that basic (better) arrangement of the <title> formatting makes sense.

Specifically:

  1. All instances besides homepage should end with - %SITENAME%

  2. Homepage should begin with %SITENAME% |

For reasoning please see my post on the Jekyll Github repo:

https://github.com/jekyll/jekyll-seo-tag/issues/121#issuecomment-488262753

As far as meta description I think by default the CMS could perhaps auto-generate based on the excerpt if exists, otherwise based on the post content. There should be easy hooks/filters to override this for SEO plugins to use...

Note: I'm still not convinced even this is a good idea however, because adding a generic meta description can actually harm SEO rather than help... e.g. if Google sees no meta description defined, they will highlight the part of the article's text that most closely relates to the keywords being searched.

And as I've opined on other Petitions, advanced users wanting pet features to be added to Core is not a good enough reason. Pretty much, the CMS should do as little as possible when it comes to code boat, etc. This also provides opportunities for an ecosystem of plugins to thrive...

Code Potent

Meta descriptions should only come the excerpt, if present. This field allows you to craft a highly-SEO'd meta description without any changes to the system.

Think about the purpose of an excerpt on a website: it's a short synopsis of an article that is designed (er, written) to get the user interested enough to click-through. This is exactly the same purpose of a SERP listing.

If no excerpt is present, the meta description should be left empty. Google (et al) will make better sense of the page on its own than, say, forcing in the first n characters from the first paragraph as a description (which could actually harm SEO.)

Anyway, while I think that core should use the excerpt, if present, for the meta description, I don't think titles or descriptions should be editable (via core.) Unless ClassicPress is going to bill itself as the "SEO'd CMS", then the finer points of SEO should remain in plugins.

1stepforward

My personal view:

There are 2 or 3 problems with relying on excerpts as I see it:

  1. the excerpt field doesn’t exist on pages as this is a theme-dependent option
  2. by default, excerpts are much longer than Google allows in search listings
  3. not everyone makes the connection between excerpts and SEO

Without theme support, CP won’t generate a meta description for pages. Likewise, if the excerpt field is not used in posts, no meta description. You are then left at the mercy of Google whereas I personally would much rather have an element of control over what Google does.

As someone who uses (or has used) several other CMSs (Joomla, Drupal, PyroCMS, Magento, OpenCart and Prestashop to name a few), all of which have this feature built in, I’ve become quite used to being able to edit the SEO title and meta description. Not having the same ability in WP/CP is the exception for me.

On top of that, not everyone needs or wants the full functionality of a dedicated plugin.

But it seems I’m in the minority so I’m happy to go with the flow. A SEO plugin for CP is in the pipeline anyway.