If you've looked at the Settings > SEO page for your blog in Typepad, you may have wondered what the "Meta Keywords" and "Meta Description" fields are about. What does "meta" even mean?
"Meta" is short for "metadata", meaning data that gives information about other data. Meta elements on a webpage, such as the meta keywords and meta description, give information about the content of that page. Meta elements are typically not visible to human visitors but are picked up by search engines and other computer-based tools that may be visiting your blog.
The metadata that you enter at Settings > SEO should describe the blog as a whole. For instance, if you have a travel blog, listing "travel" as a meta keyword is a good idea, while a cooking blog should use keywords like "food", "cooking" and the like. Try to think of search terms that you would use to find your blog and then list these as meta keywords. The meta description should be written as complete sentences that make sense to a human reader. In some cases, the meta description for your blog may be shown when your blog appears in search results so you'll want to make sure it gives readers a good idea what your blog is about.
Besides metadata for the blog as a whole, you can also enter metadata for each specific post or page that you compose for your blog. To do this, look for the Keywords and Excerpt fields on the Compose page. If you don't see a field to input text into, click the arrow to the left of the name, and that will open up the text-input field.
If you don't enter an excerpt in the Excerpt field, the first 50 words of your blog post will be used (you can change the number of words at Settings > Posts). Text that is a compelling opening for your post is not always a good description of the post as a whole, so it is a good idea to consider whether writing a custom excerpt will be more effective. Keep in mind that if you have turned on the option at Settings > Posts to display excerpts instead of full posts on indexes and archive pages then the custom excerpt you enter will also be used for this.
The Excerpt for the post, whether custom or auto-generated, will be used as the meta description for the post on the individual archive page, while the Keywords will be used for the meta keywords.
Meta elements are easy to overlook, or may seem boring, but they're a great way to improve how easy your blog is to find via search engines and how it appears in search results. Do you regularly enter custom metadata for your posts? Share your tips in the comments!