Meta tags are a part of the HTML code (HTML tags) for your website and describe any page’s content to the search engine crawlers. Meta tags are essential to all search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
Meta tags help search engines understand and index your web pages better and improve your organic search rankings. Some tags, like the title and meta description, also help users understand your page’s content better and can improve your click rates.
Overall, meta tags form the first impression about your web page and its content and are essential both for SEO and user experience.
However, not all meta tags are useful, and very few have an impact on SEO. You don’t need to know about every meta tag to boost your SEO. Below are some of the most important meta tags, with tips on how to write meta tags for SEO.
This is the first HTML element in your HTML code and specifies the title of the page. It helps search engines, like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, to understand what your page’s content is all about.
Title tags are probably the most important meta tags as they can have a direct impact on your search rankings. These are one of the most important on-page SEO rankings, and an absence of one can significantly affect your search rankings. Titles display on the SERPs(search engine results page) and on the browser tabs when browsing a website. Title tags are especially helpful when a user is shuffling between multiple tabs, as they can see the page title right on the browser tab.
Tips for Writing Title Meta Tags
- Do not write title meta tags longer than 60 characters.
- Titles with numbers work better, the same is true for title tags as well.
- Insert your primary keyword in the title tag, preferably right at the beginning.
- Write a unique title tag for each page.
A meta description is a meta tag placed in the HTML code that describes the content of a page. Meta descriptions also appear on the search engine results pages, just below the title tags.
The meta description summarizes your page’s content and is the first thing users look at to decide whether or not they want to visit your page. Therefore, it is very important to write a crisp and relevant meta description that makes people want to click on your page.
Moreover, meta descriptions don’t just help users decide what your page content covers, but also helps the search engines understand and index your page better.
While meta descriptions are not a direct Google ranking factor, they can affect a page’s click-through rate and thus improve search rankings.
Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions
- The description should be no more than 160 characters and to optimize for mobile, keep it limited to 130 characters.
- Include your primary keyword and other important keywords as naturally as possible.
- Clearly explain what users can expect from a page if they click on it.
- Write unique meta descriptions for each page on your website.
It has become more important than ever to optimize for mobile devices as a majority of online searches are initiated from mobile devices. A viewport is the visible part of a web page and is smaller for mobile devices than for desktops.
A viewport meta tag helps you make your website more mobile responsive and is used to manage the layout of your web pages when opened on mobile browsers. Not using the viewport meta tag will load the page in a way that is not compatible with mobile devices and will negatively affect the user experience.
This is a meta tag that tells search engine crawlers whether they should index a page or not.
There are four important values of a robots.txt meta tag:
Follow – this instructs the crawlers to follow all links on a web page.
Nofollow – this instructs the crawlers not to follow the page and any links on that page.
Index – this instructs the crawlers to index a web page.
Noindex – this instructs the crawlers not to index a web page.
By default, search engines follow and index all pages unless specified otherwise. Therefore, robots tags do not need to be added to all pages, but only when you don’t want a page indexed and links followed.
Headers are basically the H1, H2, H3, and other subheadings on any page. Header meta tags are used to create different heading sections with different font sizes.
Headings help to structure your content better and help both your website visitors and search engines to make sense of your page. Header meta tags don’t have a direct impact on SEO, but improve the user experience and can indirectly impact your rankings.
A canonical meta tag is most commonly used by e-commerce websites when they have multiple pages with the same product but different variants (but can be used by all sites). In such cases, they use a canonical tag to tell the search engines which one is the main page. However, a canonical tag is not a directive. It’s only a suggestion, and Google can and will ignore your canonicals in certain situations.
There are some other cases where a page could have multiple URLs, so canonical tags should be used to specify the main page and avoid indexing duplicate pages.
Alt Text Tag
An alternative text tag is added to images to help search engines read those, as they can’t read images. Adding alt text tags for all the images on your web pages will help search engines read your page content better.
Tips for Writing Alt Text Meta Tags
- These should be short and to-the-point
- Alt text should describe the image
- Keep the length between 50 and 55 characters
Social Media Meta Tags
These don’t impact SEO but there are two important social media meta tags that you need to know about—Twitter cards and open graph tags.
These are specialized meta tags that are used only for Twitter. These tags improve the page display on Twitter.
Open Graph Tags
When sharing links sometimes an image and brief post description are automatically added. Open Graph tags make that possible. These are useful when sharing content, but do not have any direct impact on SEO.
These are some of the most useful meta tags that you should know about to optimize your website and improve your search rankings. We have helped many companies use SEO to its fullest potential and want to help you next! Reach out to us here to get started.