When should I manually edit individual page titles and meta descriptions?
Plug in SEO Plus will automatically generate the best page title and meta description using all of the data available in your shop. This means that you don't need to do the thankless task of manually entering page titles and meta descriptions for every single one of your products/pages/blogs/articles/collections.
For example, when a product is named well with a good product description and Plug in SEO Plus is set up, you will end up with a page title of a good length and containing good keywords, and a meta description that is well-formed and descriptive of the product.
There are some times when you might want to manually set page titles and meta descriptions or use the Plug in SEO Plus templating to improve them further.
The title isn't very descriptive or very short
This is often true of collection names so let's take that as an example. Say you have a collection called 'Summer', your page title shouldn't be 'Summer'- far too vague for SEO.
First, check what the page title is being generated as. Go to the Summer collection page in your desktop web browser. Hover over the web browser tab with your mouse cursor, wait a couple of seconds and you'll see a popup of the page title.
If you're using the Plug in SEO Plus appender feature with an append of '| Organic Colourful Kidswear' the page title may be something like 'Summer | Organic Colourful Kidswear'. Pretty good for SEO and we probably don't need to manually enter a page title in this case.
The title keywords are difficult to rank for or not worthwhile enough
A page title should always describe what is on the page, but some keywords to describe the page are better than others for SEO: achievable for you to rank for and with a decent search volume.
Say you have a product named 'Gold bracelet'. Your keyword research shows that this is an ultra competitive keyword to rank for and likely not achievable for you to break into the first page of search results.
However you've identified 'Gold braid cuff bracelet' as a good keyword to target: often searched for but with not a lot of competition.
In this case, manually entering a page title in your Shopify admin of 'Gold braid cuff bracelet' for this product is a good solution.
The description has a lot of technical specs or non-paragraph text
Some of your products might be very technical, like machine parts, where the product description is simply a list of technical specs of the part. This may also be formatted as a bullet list rather than paragraph text.
The main role of your meta description is to get users to press your link in their search results rather than someone else's. If the one shown by Google appears mangled or random then manually setting the meta description in your Shopify admin can sort this out.
If you have any products/pages/collections/articles where you think this may be the case, let's first check what the meta description is.
Go to the offending page in your desktop web browser. Right click on a blank piece of the page and select 'View source'. In the HTML find '<meta name="description'. Here the value for 'content' is your meta description.
If the text doesn't look compelling or is mangled here then we have two options: a) figure out a template to auto-generate good meta descriptions for products like this or b) manually enter a meta description.
Option a) is worth considering if all or most of your products have descriptions like the one you're looking at. Say your product description is:
- Fits FG90235, PG93002, MKLM355 and FG021111
- Forged steel
- Three year warranty
The meta description may come out as:
Fits FG90235, PG93002, MKLM355 and FG021111 Forged steel Three year warranty
You could set up a meta description template in Plug in SEO Plus for all of your products as:
Over 10 years of experience making high quality machine parts in the USA. %% page_description %%
Making the meta description:
Over 10 years of experience making high quality machine parts in the USA. Fits FG90235, PG93002, MKLM355 and FG021111 Forged steel Three year warranty
Much more compelling for users, so much better for SEO.
Note that you shouldn't set a meta description template the same for every page on your site. You can simply avoid this, as we have in our example, by including a Liquid variable (%% page_description %%).
There is no description and no or unspecific text on the page
Collections often suffer from this problem. If you have set no collection description and your collection page is simply a list of products, there isn't enough data for either Plug in SEO Plus or Google to show a good meta description.
What can happen in this case is that your paragraph text in Google (which usually comes from the meta description) is a mangled bunch of product names. This won't perform well for clickthrough.
The simple way to sort this out is to just set a collection description in your Shopify admin. If for some reason you don't want to do this, you can also set a meta description manually in your Shopify admin.
Manually setting a page title and meta description for every single page on your shop is rarely a good use of your time. Instead, make full use of the powerful Plug in SEO Plus templating and simply pick out pages that need a bit extra attention and manually set their page title and meta description in your Shopify admin.
If you'd like some help designing good templates for your page titles and meta descriptions just drop us an email with details of your situation and we'll help out: firstname.lastname@example.org.