What do you see any time you do a Google search for a keyword or a phrase? You probably know the answer to this. Well, you see a listings page. Now take one such search result into account. You will see the title written in blue ink. The sentence below is a description of what that title contains. That is a meta title and meta description. In this article, we’ll learn all about meta tags and why you should use it. We’ll also get into the six different types of meta tags and the best ways to use them.
What Are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are pieces of code that inform search engines crucial and relevant information regarding your web page. It defines how your web page will be visible in the search results portion when someone types in the relevant keyword. So, knowing the correct method to use meta tags is extremely crucial for those looking to improve your SEO.
These SEO meta tags are written in HTML code to provide structured metadata about a particular web page. These appear on the page’s source code and not n the page itself. The “meta” in the word met tags means “metadata” which stands for the kind of data these SEO meta tags provide, i.e., data about the data on your web page.
Why Use SEO Meta Tags?
You must be aware of the phrase, first impressions are everything. So, when it comes to your SEO, the meta tags are kind of your website’s first impression for search engines and users.
Now, it’s mentioned earlier that SEO meta tags are HTML code snippets that tell search engines what your web page is about. Now, search engines use this information to judge whether your page is relevant or important for users to go through. So basically, if you want your page to show up at search meta tags are the key to make that happen. If you’re going for SEO marketing, meta tags come extremely handy to rank higher on the search engine results page.
If this is clear, let’s get cracking into the six different types of SEO meta tags that we deem to be the most important.
What Are The 6 Most Important SEO Meta Tags?
Meta tags are not just what we talked about in the previous sections. They are more than the title tag, meta keywords tag, or the meta description tag. Although these are the most widely used SEO meta tags, there are several other good tags for you to rank higher on your in SEO.
Now, let’s dive into the most important SEO meta tags:
- The Meta Title Tag
- The Meta Description Tag
- The Meta Robots Tag
- The Meta Refresh Redirect Tag
- The Meta Viewport Tag
- The Meta Charset Tag
Few Tips On How To Use Meta Tags
There are a few things to remember before we start listing out the main meta tags. Firstly, don’t add meta tags you don’t need. This will unnecessarily take up code space. Secondly, if you want your meta tags to be successful in your SEO marketing, you need to make sure that they are accompanied by high-quality content that is constructed for maximum user-satisfaction. Another key detail is that the simpler the code remains the better. While setting your SEO meta tags, the key is to think of it as if you’re setting up a step-by-step direction to get somewhere.
Meta Tags Type 1: Meta Title
This is what we discussed at the very beginning. It is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. These are displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) as a clickable headline for a particular search. In simple words, it’s the blue inked headline for every post in the search results list when you enter a keyword you’re looking for in a search engine.
To keep you from confusion, it’s important to note that sometimes Google doesn’t show the meta title tag, instead shows something different.
Why Are Meta Title Tags Important For Search Engine Optimization?
A title tag is crucial because it’s unique to each page. These tags of a web page are supposed to be a concise and accurate description of your web page’s content.
Imagine you going to your browser and searching for something. You enter the keyword and a list of results pop up. Which one do you generally go for? Obviously you either go for the few results or the one with the most exciting/ accurate title that matches your purpose. So, your meta title tag determines the first impression people will have about your page.
These tags are used in 3 key locations: search engine results page, web browsers, and social networks so it kind of has a make or break factor in determining website clicks and so on. Be sure to use this wisely.
Your main intention is to make your title stand out. For that, we’ve listed out a number of practices that will help your craft the perfect meta title tag for SEO.
- Create a unique SEO title tag for your web page.
- Remember that you’re writing a title, so, avoid using long titles. Be crisp but retain all the relevant points.
- Try to avoid vague or generic titles.
- Have you heard of click-baits? Now is your time to apply that. Input something worthwhile in your title that makes a person click on your page.
- Make sure to match your title with the search intent.
- Try to mention your target/main keyword in the meta title tag itself. However, be sure not to shoehorn a couple of unnatural-looking keywords. Remember you’re writing for a human, not a robot.
- Remember to keep your title tag under 60 characters.
Steps To Add A Title Tag To Your Web Page
The title tag is generally added at \thesection of your web page. As shown below, paste the following code at the head of your page.
Now, let’s say you’re using WordPress. To ease your process, you can install the Yoast SEO plug-in. Now, once your content is ready ad you’re ready to publish it on WordPress, you go to the Add New post section, and there at the Post Editor section, you’ll notice a place in your SEO package to set your title tag. Other content management systems like Wix and Squarespace also function the same way.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Learn to identify a few common mistakes people make while setting your SEO meta tags. Go through the section below to know better and avoid such mistakes.
- Long title tags: This is crucial because Google starts cutting off title tags in the search results page after around 50-60 characters. This is called title tag truncation and you should want to avoid this as much as possible.
- Web page without a title tag: Your web page has no chance if you forget to put a title for each page you own and operate.
- Multiple title tags: If the previous point is true, so is this. Don’t include more than one title tag in your web page. Your page might display an irrelevant title during a search if there’s more than one.
- Duplicates: Avoid using duplicate titles as the more distinct and unique you get, the higher you rank on the search results page.
Meta Tags Type 2: Meta Description
This is the second thing that pops up when you search with a keyword on a search engine. To briefly define it, it is a relevant summary of a particular page. It’s like a pitch that compels users to click on it and convinces them that that’s what they’re searching for.
Why Are Meta Description Tags Important For Search Engine Optimization
The crucial difference between meta title tags and the meta description tag is that the latter is not a ranking factor. But you sure can increase clicks to your web page with a catchy description to accompany your title. This will increase traffic to your website and indirectly aid you in ranking higher.
Now, the main thing to determine is how much time you’ll devote to this kind of meta tags as Google tends to rewrite meta descriptions most of the time. Imagine spending a substantial amount of time on creating the perfect meta description only to be later rewritten by Google. That’s bound to be annoying.
But this shouldn’t stop you from writing relevant and enticing descriptions for your page.
Some of the best practices to follow while writing your meta description tag are as follows.
- Remember to be unique and distinct. You can try to keep a taste of your niche in your meta description tag. But if that’s too much to ask, be sure to write an effective description.
- Summarize the content of your web page in your meta tags. This summary should include a gist of the major points that your page covers in an exciting and catchy tone.
- Maintain sentence case while writing.
- In this case, create something that is click-worthy. Click-baits work best for title tags but in this meta tag, you need enough material to compel a user to follow up.
- Matching search intent.
- Remember to include your main keyword in the 2 sentence snippet. Again, it should not seem like you’re writing for a robot so don’t combine a few keywords and leave it at that. Build a distinct description summarizing the contents of your page.
- If you use WordPress or any other sites, you’ll notice that they ask you to keep the character limit below 160.
Steps To Add A Meta Description To Your Web Page
The meta description box is generally below the meta title. Now, as shown below, you can paste the following code into that section. Do this easily using Yoast SEO or other CMs which are equipped to handle the same functions.
Adding your meta description is not a difficult task at all. In sites like WordPress, you’ll find the description box in the post editor section. To help you out further, the characters box below turns red if the number of characters exceeds the preferred number.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Some of the mistakes that people tend to make while writing their meta descriptions coincide with the meta title writing mistakes. Remember to keep these in check to get maximum success from using SEO meta tags.
- Don’t use too long descriptions. It’ll be truncated and leave your user with unsatisfactory results.
- Remember to include a meta description tag on every page of your site. Since this is not mandatory, people tend to avoid writing one.
- Multiple meta descriptions tag on a page can confuse your search engines.
- Avoid writing duplicate descriptions.
Meta Tags Type 3: Meta Robots
These SEO meta tags make your content accessible to search engine crawlers. It guides search engines to index and crawl your website just the way you want. Without this meta tag, this could be a challenging task. In other words, a robots meta tag is an HTML code snippet that informs Meta Tags For Seo how to crawl or index a certain web page.
Why Are Meta Robots Tags Important For Search Engine Optimization?
It’s important to note that if you use incorrect attributes in your robots meta tag, the result can be catastrophic. It has the ability to affect your site’s visibility or ranking in the SERP. A lot of your SEO work depends on you having a proper understanding of this SEO meta tag and using it efficiently.
Now to list out a number of values that you can use in this meta tag are as follows:
- The “Index” value: asks the bot to index your page.
- The “Noindex” value: commands the bot not to index a certain age.
- The “Follow” value: asks the bot to crawl external links on your web page and that you endorse those pages.
- The “Nofollow’ value: asks the bot not to crawl links on your page and that you do not vouch for those pages.
You can also combine and use these command tags together as follows.
There is a ton of content that you might want to prevent from indexing. These include thin pages without any user-friendly information, web pages in the staging process, thank-you pages, admin pages, PPC landing pages, promotional pages, and so on. You can also use canonical tags to prevent duplicate content.
- These SEO meta tags should be used only when you want to prevent the way Google crawls a web page.
- Remember not to block web pages with the robots meta tags in robots.txt.
Steps To Add Meta Robots Tag To Your Web Page
These SEO meta tags are located at \thesection of your web page. So, paste the code you want to use in that section. If you’re using WordPress, you have to use the advanced settings of Yoast to set these meta tags. Most other CMs also have this same built-in facility.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Three of the most common mistakes that people tend to make while using these SEO meta tags are:
- Blocking noindexed web pages by robots.txt: This restricts Google from seeing the noindex tag. If that happens, your page might still get indexed by Google.
- Rogue use of noindex: When you do this, Google will not index your page and you’ll not receive your organic traffic.
- Rogue use of nofollow: When you do this, Google doesn’t crawl links on your page. This may lead your content to remain undiscovered from the SERP.
Meta Tags Type 4: Meta Viewport
The meta viewport tag falls under the category of SEO meta tags that should be on every page. In this mobile world, you leave behind this meta tag only if you want your user to suffer a poor mobile experience. This tag defines the visible area of your web page instructing browsers how to render your web page on different screens like that of your pc, tablet, or mobile.
Why Are Meta Viewport Tags Important For Search Engine Optimization?
If you want to make your webpage mobile-friendly, this is a crucial element. Why is making a page mobile-friendly so important? Here lies the main catch: Google ranks mobile-friendly web pages higher than others as per a 2015 SEO meta tags study.
Below is a comparison picture of a mobile-friendly and a non mobile-friendly web page. When you’re reading on a mobile phone and a desktop version of the page arrives, you tend to get annoyed. This is what you can avoid using the viewport meta tags feature.
- This is a digital world with mobile phones taking over the market. So the best way to go about this is to make all your web pages mobile-friendly using viewport meta tags.
- If you’re new into this area, it’s best that you use the “standard” tag. Check out the section below to know how to use this meta tag.
Steps To Add Meta Viewport Tag To Your Web Page
Paste the viewport code at \thesection of the web page’s post editorial space. Now, it’s important that you remember the width doesn’t have to be equal to device-width (initial scale 1.0) for every web page. But if you don’t have a better idea, it’s good to stick to this standard.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
In most cases, you won’t need to worry because most CMs automatically set their viewport tag. So, on most modern websites, you’ll not notice issues related to viewport. If anything crops up, you can always go to Google Search Console and search for Mobile Usability to find further solutions.
Meta Tags Type 5: Meta Charset
These SEO meta tags inform the browser how to display your text on the web page. There are tons of character sets, however, here we’ve listed out the two most common types of this meta tag.
- UTF-8: This character set encodes characters for Unicode.
- ISO-8859-1: This set encodes characters for the Latin alphabet.
Why Are Meta Charset Tags Important For Search Engine Optimization?
If you’re aiming for high ranks using SEO, then this is a crucial determining factor. If users face character formatting problems, it’s bad for their overall experience. Your page may look broken and your characters may be displayed incorrectly.
You might rank lower in the SERP because of low dwell time, high bounce rate and users avoiding linking your web page. Surely you don’t want that to happen. So, make sure to use the correct character encoding tag.
- Use these meta tags on all web pages.
- Make sure to use UTF-8 wherever possible. This is considered to be a good tactic.
- Use the right syntax for the HTML version.
Steps To Add Meta Charset Tag To Your Web Page
Your codes will vary if you’re writing an HTML meta tag. You’ll find this meta tag at \thesection of your web page. Go to that section and paste the following code. The latter one is a code for HTML 4 users. Be sure to check which HTML you’re using before writing the HTML meta tags code.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Most sites use either ISO-8859-1 or the UTF-8 encoding set. We recommend you to go with the latter because sometimes issues crop up in the former one. So, to get a smoother experience, try switching to UTF-8. This is known to solve several problems. Remember not to leave your content with a meta charset tag. That may turn your page into rubbish text.
Meta Tags Type 6: Meta Refresh Redirect
This meta tag tells your browser to redirect your page user to a different URL after a fixed amount of time.
Why Is Meta Refresh Redirect Important For Search Engine Optimization?
Before you set yourself up for SEO efforts, you should know that these SEO meta tags are important only because you should avoid using these. These meta tags are not supported by all web browsers. They can increase security concerns and become confusing for users. Also, make sure to include a canonical tag on your web page.
- Don’t use this meta tag unless it’s absolutely essential.
- You can use a 301 redirect instead of using this meta tag.
Steps To Add Meta Refresh Redirect Tag To Your Web Page
When you get to \thesection of your web page, paste the following code. In the code, you’ll notice that the “content” character is used to determine the time delay and the “url” character to redirect to that URL after the specified time.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
Using these meta tags is a bad practice so try and avoid them at all costs. You can easily use 302or 301 redirects instead of these SEO meta tags. If that doesn’t solve the problem, look for a canonical tag.
Are you in the habit of using target keywords in the meta keywords section? We tell you it’s a bad idea. Google has discarded using the keyword meta tag since 2009 stating that people tend to fill the meta keyword tag space with irrelevant content rather than the keyword phrase. But even when they used a meta keyword to determine ranks, it turned out to be fruitless because visitors don’t go by a keyword during their search.
In 2011, the Bind search engine announced that the keyword tag will be considered as spam. For this reason, it’s best not to use meta keywords in your site. The process of removing is easy and can be done using a single code.
As a final word, we tell you that SEO meta tags are not that confusing. Understanding them might take some time but once you get a hang of it, your site will flourish better than most others.