Meta tags are of different types and can be used to increase the visibility of a website of search engines. Their impact on SEO is undeniable; however, when not written property can negatively impact your website’s ranking. Let’s understand the importance of meta tags in SEO and how you can accurately write the different types.
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are snippets of text that describe the content of a page. The term “meta” is derived from “metadata” which emphasizes the type of data these tags provide- data about the data on your page. They are essentially snippets of HTML code that are crawled by search engine robots like Google.
These tags are not visible on the page’s content, such as blog posts, articles, or web pages. They are embedded in the page source code. These concise content descriptors play a critical role in informing search engines about the nature of a web page. Therefore, they influence the visibility of a web page on the search engine results page (SERPs).
The distinction between visible tags and meta tags lies in their location within the HTML structure. Meta tags exclusively exist in the HTML, typically situated at the “head” of the page, making them visible only to search engines and individuals familiar with locating them.
How Do Google Meta Tags Impact SEO?
Meta tags play a vital role in SEO by facilitating communication between search engine robots. They guide indexing decisions and provide important information about a page’s content. Meta tags that are well-written and configured properly enhance the understanding of webpage content, increasing the likelihood of higher rankings in search engine results.
Moreover, meta tags contribute to improved user experience by offering quality information in the search results. This leads to higher click-through rates (CTR) and a better overall website experience. However, not all meta tags influence SEO to which it’s important to know which ones are crucial and which have fallen out of use like the meta keyword tags.
How to Write Meta Tags?
Meta tags are added to the <head> section of the page and can be written only in HTML code. To optimize your meta tags for better performance, focus on user-oriented content. Align your meta tags with the theme of the page and incorporate the main keyword or synonyms, especially in the title and meta description.
Types of Meta Tags
Follow the below tips for useful meta tags and incorporate Google’s guidelines for improved rankings:
- Title Tags
The meta title tag is the most important meta tag and anchor. The <title> element usually appears as a clickable headline in the SERPs, social networks, and browsers. Placed in the <head> of your webpage, it summarizes your page’s content.
While the impact of rankings has shifted, user behavior remains vital. Due to this, crafting a compelling title that elevates traffic and clicks as well as influences ranking is important. Note that Google no longer requires you to match exact keywords on the title tag, instead focus on the overall content. Do not confuse the title tag with heading 1 as this is only visible to users on the search results, but not within the page.
- Curate a unique title that describes the page’s content accurately and concisely.
- The title should attract the attention of users and increase the CTR of the page in the SERPs.
- Keep the title length up to 50-60 characters.
- Put important keywords in a natural manner and do not exceed or repeat keywords.
- Make use of the brand name in the title as it positively impacts the search.
- Meta Description Tags
A meta description is also present in the <head> of a webpage and is displayed alongside a title and page URL. This tag provides a brief description of the page which is visible in the search results and gets displayed as a SERP snippet.
Although Google does not always display the content written by the author/creator, it may automatically generate meta descriptions by assessing the content of the page to meet the “quality” standards. The meta description impacts the number of clicks you get and if a user searches for a particular keyword in their query, the word will appear as bold in this tag.
- Write meta descriptions in a way that reflects the value of the page and summarizes the content.
- Include important keywords at the beginning of the sentences in a natural way and remember to repeat them.
- Keep the length of this description between 150-160 characters.
- Heading Tags (H1-H6)
Heading tags are meta tags in HTML that help in identifying the headings and subheadings within content. Although the use of H2-H6 tags is not that important to search engines, the H1 tag plays a key role in SEO.
Additionally, these heading tags make it clear for readers to understand the content. They are like anchors in a wall of text and help in easy navigation of different sections on a page. As per Google’s recommendation, you can match your page’s title with H1 and change the order a little.
- Keep your headings relevant to the content or section they are describing.
- Ensure your headings reflect the sentiment of the text rather than simply writing Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.
- Do not overuse the tag and keywords. Keep it reliable for users.
- Image Alt Attributes
The image alt attribute is added to an image tag which describes the content of the image. The alt tag always needs to be contextually relevant and aligned with the image. They play a vital role in terms of on-page optimization as they are shown to visitors when an image can’t load, thereby providing integral information. The second is when search engines rely on alt attributes to understand images since they cannot “see” them.
- Optimize the prominent images that are likely to be looked up in Google Images search.
- Add alt text on pages where too much content is not present
- Keep it descriptive and clear and use relevant keywords that align with the image and topic.
- Nofollow Attributes
External links of your site impact SEO by showcasing credibility or devaluing content. Google penalizes manipulative linking, emphasizing genuine content. In the era of semantic search, linked sources contribute to context.
So, be mindful of how and where you link. By default, all hyperlinks are followed. But by adding a nofollow attribute, you signal the search engines not to follow the link or pass link equity. Typically the following links are a nofollow:
- Links to content deemed “untrusted.”
- Paid or sponsored links to avoid selling your “vote” to Google.
- Links from user-generated content are susceptible to spam.
- Internal “Sign in” and “Register” like, which are unnecessary for crawling and budget optimization.
- Meta Robots Tags
In the robots meta tag, the “noindex” attribute tells the search engine not to index a page whereas a “nofollow” instructs them to not follow links on that page. While these tags don’t directly impact the ranking of that page, they influence how your site is seen by search engines.
For instance, “noindex” can be helpful for pages with little user value or incomplete content. Using these tags provides control over how your site is viewed by search engines in different scenarios.
- Close pages that unreasonably waste the crawl budget.
- Close unnecessary or unfinished pages with thin content of no value and no intent to appear in the SERPs.
- Ensure not to restrict important pages from indexing.
- rel=”canonical” Link Tag
The rel=”canonical” link tag indicates the preferred version of a page for search engines, essential when multiple URLs or similar content exist. While internal duplicate content is leniently handled, specifying the preferred URL avoids uneven crawling.
This prevents penalties and also simplifies the tracking performance metrics. Additionally, this tag helps consolidate efforts, transferring link signals to the preferred version and steaming your SEO strategy efficiently.
- Pages with similar content on the same topic or subject.
- Duplicate pages are available under multiple URLs.
- Versions of the same page with session IDsor other URL parameters that do not impact content.
- Make use of canonical tags for near duplicate pages.
- Schema Markup
Schema markup organizes webpage data for search engine recognition, providing a dual benefit of improved UX and significant SEO value. With respect to the semantic web, structured data aids search engines in understanding content beyond keywords. Rich snippets, enhanced by schema tags, offer informative SERP results, positively influencing user behavior factors and ultimately impacting search engine rankings
- Create a map consisting of your most important pages and deduce the concepts relevant to them.
- Implement the markup carefully and use online tools if required.
- Test the markup to ensure it isn’t misleading or not added properly.
- Social Media Meta Tags
Open Graph, initially introduced by Facebook and now recognized by Linkedin, controls how a page appears when shared on social media. Twitter cards, exclusive to Twitter, offer similar enhancements. Key Open Graph tags include og:title, og:url, og:description, and og:image.
Utilizing these specific social media meta tags doesn’t impact search engine rankings but significantly increases CTR and UX by shaping how your links appear to your audience.
- Add relevant metadata using Open Graph protocol, and test the URL to see how it’ll be displayed.
- Set up Twitter cards and validate them once done.
- Viewport Meta Tag
According to the viewport meta tag definition, it allows you to control how a page is scaled and displayed on devices. “Width=device-width” matches the page to the screen’s width and “initial scale=1” establishes a 1:1 relationship, considering screen orientation.
While this tag does not directly impact rankings, it plays a critical role in user experience, especially with the rise of mobile browsing. Negling the viewport meta tag may affect the CTR and impact bounce rates, making it an essential element for user satisfaction.
Thus, the list of meta tags mentioned in this blog plays a vital role in SEO. Carefully understand how each of these tags is used. Utilize the best practices to elevate the rankings of your webpage as well as increase audience engagement.