WordPress Meta Tags: The Ultimate Guide

In the past, whenever I looked at the source code for a page on my site, I’d see all sorts of stuff in the head – different meta tags and who knows what.

Like picking up a rock and seeing the squiggly creatures beneath, I would quickly drop the rock back down and be on my way.

Well not today. Today we’re going to pick the rock up again, and bring a scrutinizing eye to all that… stuff in your WordPress head.

Understanding and Editing Meta Tags

WordPress includes a handful of default meta tags in all installs. We’ll look at what each of these does first and then decide what to do with them.

Generator Meta Tag

The generator meta tag is included on each page of a WordPress site. It says that the html was generated with WordPress, and includes the current version being used.

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 3.8" />

It serves little purpose, but potentially is/could be used for gathering statistics by identifying sites as using WordPress. Some have said it is a potential security concern because it displays the version of WP you’re using. I’m no security expert, but I’m sure that’s an invalid claim or it wouldn’t be in core since V2.5.

If you want it gone, just for the sake of cleanliness, you can remove it with this function, courtesy of WP Beginner:

function wpbeginner_remove_version() {
return '';
}
add_filter('the_generator', 'wpbeginner_remove_version');

 Template Meta Tag

The template meta tag is obscure and hard to find any information about. It simply outputs the name of the theme that you are using:

<meta name="template" content="Crest 1.00" />

RSS & Comments RSS Link Tags

Alright these are ‘link tags’ not meta tags, but they fit the purpose of this article. The link elements do not produce clickable links like an anchor tag. They instead are used to reference an external resource, and the “rel” attribute defines the relationship.

These link elements reference the URLs where your RSS & comments RSS feeds are located, and the “rel” attribute says that they are alternate ways to view the current document’s contents.

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Website » Feed" href="http://website.com/feed" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Website » Comments Feed" href="http://website.com/comments/feed/" />

The benefit of including them is enabling RSS auto-discovery which is used by various browsers and programs. However, their inclusion makes it easier for scraper sites to scrape your content.

Some people say they’re “bad for SEO”, so let’s tackle that issue now.

If you have the RSS and Comments RSS feeds links in your head, your site is more likely to be scraped. There’s no SEO implication for being scraped. You won’t be penalized and you’ll almost certainly outrank those lame scrapers

If you’re using WordPress SEO, then your posts that get scraped automatically include a link back to the original post. This was a best practice pre-Penguin, and then those links started to (possibly) hurt rankings. Yoast then made the links “nofollow”, so there’s no problem.

If you’re using WordPress SEO, you can check off a box in the “Titles & Metas” section to remove them if you’d like.

rss links wordpress seo

Otherwise, you can use this code to remove them:

function remove_header_info() {

remove_action('wp_head', 'feed_links', 2);  //removes feeds
remove_action('wp_head', 'feed_links_extra', 3);  //removes comment feed links
}

add_action('init', 'remove_header_info');

RSD Link Tag

RSD stands for “Real Simple Discovery” and here’s what the link looks like:

<link title="RSD" href="http://www.mysite.com/xmlrpc.php?rsd" rel="EditURI" type="application/rsd+xml" />

It’s used to assist remote publishing and also by some third-party sites like Flickr. You probably don’t need it, and now that you know what it does, you’ll know when/if you need to add it back in.

WordPress SEO again has a box you can check off to remove it, or you can use the following code:

remove_action('wp_head', 'rsd_link');

WLW Manifest Links

The WLW Manifest link is used to enable the use of Windows Live Writer with your blog. Many have questioned its default inclusion, but regardless, if you don’t use WLW then you don’t need it.

It can be easily removed with WordPress SEO or with this line of code:

remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wlwmanifest_link');

ShortLink for posts

The ShortLink link tag shows up on all post pages and automatically defines a shorter URL that can be used to reference the post with the the_shortlink() in a theme or plugin.

<link rel='shortlink' href='http://website.com/?p=1' />

As you might expect, there is talk about shortlinks being “SEO Friendly.” The only SEO benefit of using a shortlink instead of a normal link is the decreased length of the URL. However, if the URL isn’t really long in the first place, this doesn’t help. In fact, you’ll now lose 1-10% of the link juice due to the 301 redirect, so it might do more harm than good.

You don’t have to use shortlinks of course, and simply including the link tag won’t affect SEO. However, to clean things up a bit, you can remove the tag yet again with WordPress SEO or with this code:

remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_shortlink_wp_head');

Jquery & Jquery Migrate

The last element we’re going to look at are the two jquery script tags included in WordPress. In your head, you’ll see a call to two urls:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://website.com/wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery.js?ver=1.10.2"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://website.com/wordpress/wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery-migrate.min.js?ver=1.2.1"></script>

This loads the version of jquery packaged with your current WordPress version and jquery migrate which ensures greater backwards compatibility.

You can choose to dequeue the default version of jquery that comes with WordPress and load it from Google’s CDN instead (done easily with a plugin). However, this can be problematic and break various plugins. Your best bet is to leave it as is, especially for client sites, unless you really know what you’re doing.

WordPress Metadata Tags

Now you can take responsible action to edit the default WordPress meta tags, or simply relish in your new understanding of the stuff in your <head>.

A good followup to this post is Yoast’s SEO guide. He gets into more technical areas and discusses other meta data, link elements, and all sorts of SEO geekery.

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3 Comments
  1. Sander Berg Sander Berg

    That is not in Yoast SEO anymore. You can use a plugin to remove it and many more stuff from the header. There are some, but I use this one:
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/remove-wp-overhead/

  2. Awesome resources!
    Thanks for sharing such good article. This is really helpful.

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