A 2021 Guide to SEO Meta Tags

What Are Meta Tags?

INTRODUCTION

If you’re new to SEO and learning how to add it to your digital marketing strategy, a great place to start is learning more about meta tags. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics and best practices of using meta tags to optimize your webpages. Similarly, you’ll also learn how simple techniques can help search engines recognize your webpages and increase their ranking.

Some tags are vital for SEO. Others have little or no impact on rankings.

WHAT ARE META TAGS?

What Are Meta Tags?
What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s source code. In addition, meta tags are essentially little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.

The only difference between tags you can see (on a blogpost, for example) and tags you can’t see is location: meta tags only exist in HTML, usually at the “head” of the page, and so are only visible to search engines (and people who know where to look). The “meta” stands for “metadata,” which is the kind of data these tags provide – data about the data on your page.

Every web page has meta tags, but they’re only visible in the HTML code.

ARE META TAGS IMPORTANT?

Meta tags are important because they impact how your site appears in the SERPs and how many people will be inclined to click through to your website. Therefore, they will impact your traffic and engagement rates, which can impact your SEO and rankings. Meta tags are an important part of a solid SEO strategy. Although some tags might not have a direct impact on rankings, they do impact how your site appears within the digital ecosystem. Additionally, they could be a factor in many non-traditional search results, like Knowledge Graph, Google image search, voice, and more. No brand should neglect them when developing content.

GETTING STARTED WITH META TAGS

There are numerous different types of meta tags which fulfill different roles, and not all of them are relevant to SEO.

There are four major types of meta tags worth knowing about and we’ll talk about them all here. Some are not as useful as they once were. Others are worth using regularly, and will very likely increase your traffic by letting Google know who you are and what you provide. (There are more than four kinds of meta tags, but some are less common or not relevant to web marketing).

The four types we’ll discuss here are:

1. Meta Keywords Attribute:

Keyword tags aren’t used by search algorithms to determine search ranking.

Here’s what the HTML looks like:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”HTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript”>

2. Title Tag :

The title tag is one of the first things that users notice in the SERPs. It’s the title of your page that offers a preview of what your content is about. This is the text you’ll see at the top of your browser. Search engines view this text as the “title” of your page. Similarly, your title tag is not just for your visitors, but also the search engines that discover your content. Thus, you need to blend clarity with context to ensure that your title makes sense to everyone.

3. Meta Description Attribute :

A brief description of the page. The meta description should provide an accurate description of the content of your page. It is usually the element that determines whether users will click on your page, which makes it important to spend time on its optimization. Meta descriptions, however, are not a direct ranking factor. Google says: Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

4. Meta Robots Attribute:

The meta robots tag tells search engines if and how they should crawl your web pages. This meta tag serves a similar purpose to robots.txt; it is generally used to prevent a search engine from indexing individual pages, while robots.txt will prevent it from indexing a whole site or section of a site.

A robots meta tag which instructs the search engine crawler not to index a page, or follow any links on it, would be written like this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow" />

However, if you want to tell the crawler to index and also follow your page, you would replace the robots tag with this:

<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />

However, if you wanted to simply nofollow all links on a particular page, you can achieve this with the robots meta tag.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR META TAG CHECKLIST

How to Optimize Your Meta Tags
How to Optimize Your Meta Tags

Meta tags can help both search engines and searchers. They can help you improve the user experience and the display of your business information.

This can contribute to an improved authority, an enhanced search presence and thus, a higher ranking.

If you’re ready to check your performance with meta tags, here’s a quick checklist to start with:

  • Check whether all your pages and your content have title tags and meta descriptions
  • Start paying more attention to your headings and how you structure your content
  • Don’t forget to mark up your images with alt text
  • Use robot meta tags to guide search engines on how they should access your content
  • Search for duplicate pages, and use canonical tags to avoid cannibalizing your own content with duplicate or similar content
  • Create a checklist of the steps that you need to repeat when you create new content, and turn meta tags into a part of your routine.

CONCLUSION

Meta tags aren’t that complicated. Understanding the tags above should be enough to prevent any significant SEO. Similarly, Small changes that improve user experience and help search engines understand your site better will be appreciated by both sides, and will definitely pay off in the long run.

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