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Remove duplicate meta descriptions and titles on multi-page WordPress posts

This post describes how to remove duplicate meta descriptions and titles on multi-page WordPress posts. Paginating long posts into multiple pages with the nextpage tag in WordPress increases pageviews and we have already shown you how to add and style post page numbers in Genesis theme with and without plugins. However, doing so could potentially have a negative effect on your search engine ranking due to the same post title and meta description being used on all pages of the post. Google robots may view these as duplicate content and rank them lower. Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin addresses this problem by adding the correct canonical, next, and prev tags in the page header. However, that is not quite enough if you manually write a meta description, which is recommended, for each post rather than letting WordPress use the excerpts (the first few lines of the post). The result is duplicate meta descriptions and titles on all subpages. So let us see how to fix this problem, including properly configuring WordPress SEO plugin.

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Duplicate Meta Descriptions and Titles

You can check to see if you have duplicate meta descriptions and titles by logging into your Google Webmaster Tools->Search Appearance->HTML Improvements. If you do have duplicates you will see something like this:

Duplicate Meta Descriptions and Titles - Before
Duplicate Meta Descriptions and Titles – Before

If you click on the problematic topic, you will see which pages have duplicate meta descriptions and titles. The example below shows a 2-page post, both having the same meta description and title.

Duplicate Meta Description Example
Duplicate Meta Description Example

If you are a serious blogger, it is in your best interest to fix these or else risk taking a hit on search engine traffic.

Recommended Reading:

Configuring WordPress SEO Plugin

The first step is to configure Titles and Metas in Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. As shown below, for Title Template use %%title%% %%page%%, for Meta Description Template use %%excerpt%% %%page%%, and for optionally for Meta Keywords Template use %%focuskw%%, %%tag%%, %%category%%. Of course, save the settings and exit.

Yoast WordPress SEO - Titles and Metas Settings
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles and Metas Settings

What this does is, if a post is split into multiple pages it adds the page number at the end of meta description and title starting from the second page. This avoids duplicate meta descriptions and titles being displayed on paginated posts. Note that if you manually enter meta description for each post while drafting it (again, I recommend doing it), then you will need to follow the next step as well.

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About the author

Anand

Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, a part-time blogger, and a Food Scientist by career. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs on htpcbeginner.com and smarthomebeginner.com.

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