Meta tags; what are they, and why do they matter? Well, if you stumbled upon this article via a search engine, then there’s a high chance you clicked on this website page because of meta tags. They are the foundation of SEO and one of the first things you’ll need to set up when building a webpage.
WHAT ARE META TAGS?
Meta tags are a specific HTML tag that gives search engines like Google information about a website page. They are highly influential in determining the visibility of a website page on the SERPs. They are added to the <head> section of a page and are only visible in the HTML code.
WHY DO THEY MATTER FOR SEO?
Meta tags are extremely important because they are one of the sole channels a website has to communicate with search engine robots responsible for indexing web pages. The bots use meta tags to indicate if a page should be indexed or not and add information about its content.
Because of this, meta tags are one of the core aspects of an effective SEO strategy. If there is good configuration and writing of meta tags, robots are able to understand the content of each page of a website which makes it more likely to rank higher in the SERPs.
Meta tags can also offer quality information to the users to achieve more clicks and a higher click-through rate (CTR) in searches and offer them an overall better experience with the website.
META TAG BEST PRACTICES
The title tag indicates the title of the page content to Google as well as the users on the search engines. It is only visible to users on the search result, not within the page, so don’t confuse it with the H1, the main title of the text. To write a good title tag, you want to:
- Summarize the topic of the page with the primary keyword or term
- Create original, unique, and pleasing titles to attract users and increase the CTR of the page
- Be descriptive and accurate in regards to the content of the page
- Don’t exceed or repeat keywords
- Write no more than 60 characters
Search engines and link aggregators use image tags to identify your website. There are actually two image descriptions squished into one tag. The HTML code looks like this:
For the best experience, define both the alt and title tags. When you hover the cursor over, the title will be displayed on your screen, and the alt text is displayed when the image can’t be rendered. The alt text is also essential for accessibility and necessary for ADA compliance because it is spoken to the blind and visually impaired.
When you upload an image to WordPress, you will be prompted to enter the title, caption, alt text, and description. The more of these fields you fill in, the more searchable your images will become.
DESCRIPTION META TAGS
Meta description tags provide the option to add a brief description of the website page visible on the search results.
Google doesn’t always display the content the creator proposes and sometimes will automatically generate a description through the page’s content. This happens when they think the description from the creator is not quality or doesn’t relate to the user’s query. When you are writing a description meta tag, you will want to:
- Write the description in a personalized manner that summarizes the content of the page
- Include the keyword naturally at the beginning of the sentences without repeating it a lot
- Make it original and attractive
- Keep it between approximately 140 and 160 characters
ROBOTS META TAGS
These tags are one of the critical meta tags for an SEO strategy. It is the one that tells a search engine explicitly if the page should be indexed or not.
Generally, the default values are index and follow, and in most cases, it is not necessary to specify them. This indicates to the robots that we want the page to be indexed and that it can be followed. On the other hand, if the values are noindex and nofollow, we are communicating to Google that we don’t want those links to be followed or appear on the search engine.
There are many more meta tags than the ones discussed below, but they are all used to help us communicate with the user and search engines so everyone understands the information provided. Therefore, you must understand each one and how to optimize it the most attractive way.