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Meta descriptions and excerpts

When you’re running a large and busy website, it’s practical and time-saving if you can reuse some of your material. Both meta descriptions and excerpts use a brief passage to summarize the content of a web page. So, it could be handy to use the same text for both. But how do you do that? Here, we explain the easiest way to reuse your text for both meta descriptions and excerpts, and whether Google approves of this reuse.

Renee Lodens sent us an email with the following question:

“Is there a way to bulk copy the Yoast SEO meta descriptions to the excerpt field? Also, is this considered duplicate content?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

Meta descriptions and excerpts

“Well, let’s start with the first thing. It’s probably easier to do it the other way around. If you put the description that you want in the excerpt field, and then in the back end, in the Search appearance section [used to be the Yoast SEO Titles & Meta section], you can use the excerpt shortcode for meta descriptions. We will automatically put your excerpt in your meta description. That’s easier. You can do it the other way around too, but then you’d have to code a bit.

Is this considered duplicate content? No, it’s not. Because they are different things used for different purposes. Your meta description will only show up in the metadata, which will not be shown on the page. And Google considers these two separate things.

So this might actually work well for you if you write really good short excerpts that fit well into your meta description.

Good luck!”

Read more: How to create the right meta descriptions »

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5 Responses to Meta descriptions and excerpts

  1. Derek
    Derek  • 7 years ago

    This is great! If I use the excerpt instead of the meta description field, the plugin still returns the red flag: “No meta description has been specified. Search engines will display copy from the page instead.”

  2. Ecoledsolar
    Ecoledsolar  • 7 years ago

    Thank you very much for the post. It was very helpful to me.

  3. Jason
    Jason  • 7 years ago

    If it’s really easier and the recommended method why not move the excerpt box up more prominently? I use the Divi theme from Elegant themes and the excerpt box is all the way at the bottom and barely noticeable. You could even do something like “Enter the excerpt” Check this box to also use as MetaDescription. Seems like extra work for something that could easily be automated. Maybe I’m missing something ;-)

    • Jason
      Jason  • 7 years ago

      Ok, I just re-read it a few times. If I understand correctly, you just put %%excerpt%% in the “Meta Description Template” box on the SEO>Titles & Metas>Post Types Tab.

      Does this apply to all sections: Posts, Pages, Media, Projects, Custom Types ?

      Easy Enough to set that, but If going this route I’d like to see the excerpt box displayed more prominently right at the top SEO box on the page site. Like I previously mentioned, the Excerpts is absolutely buried at the bottom at least on my Divi Theme.


      • Willemien Hallebeek
        Willemien Hallebeek  • 7 years ago

        Hi Jason, it does apply to all sections, and you should be able to drag an drop the excerpt field to a higher position, if you want that. Hope this helps!

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