This document will walk you through the process of finding and editing the excerpt of a page so that the meta description that appears in search results and in social media describes your content most effectively.
An excerpt is a small (usually one paragraph) summary of what your WordPress page is about. Anything added to the excerpt will show up in the meta description for a page. This area is generated by default if no information is provided for the excerpt on the page. In the UW Theme, this will be populated with the first paragraph of content that appears on the page. Sometimes, this auto-populated description is accurate. Other times, it is a poor representation of the page content or it becomes out-of-date as the page changes over time. Therefore, if SEO, Google search results, and social media posts are important for your site, it is recommended that you write and manually set descriptive excerpts for each of your pages.
Google Search Results Example:
The excerpt is also what is used to generate a description of your page when using certain page elements and theme features. These include post list descriptions, Faculty/Staff lists, hero images, featured content blocks, etc.
Finding and Editing the Excerpt on a Page
The excerpt is a field that exists in the page builder view of your site, however, it is not visible by default. Therefore, you must ask WordPress to show this option to you. Once you have turned on the screen option to see the excerpt, it will remain visible from that day forward.
- Log in to WiscWeb and choose Pages.
- Select a page that you would like to edit the excerpt for.
- At the top right corner of the page, click the drop down for Screen Options.
- Check the box for Excerpt (this will either make it visible on your page builder view, or you can confirm that it is currently visible).
- Scroll down your page builder view until you find the Excerpt field.
- Edit as needed. Make sure the excerpt is written in a way that makes it obvious to a user what the page is about.
- Update the page.
- The excerpt will be auto-generated if you leave this field blank for Pages.
- The information saved in the excerpt will appear as a meta description for the page in search results and in social media.
- This setting is not available by default but once set, it will always show up for your view.
- The excerpt can be updated for use in various WordPress and UW Theme functions like page elements, plugins, pages, and posts.
- Excerpts should be concise descriptions that make it clear to the user what kind of information they can find on that page.