Meta Tag in SEO: Why is it Important?

About 93% of all online users start their online experience with a search engine (Source: Nine Stats) and these search engines use meta tags to serve users with relevant content. Thus, this makes meta tags an important search engine ranking factor.

Online experiences start with a search engine

Image Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/why-meta-tags-are-so-important/

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are HTML tags that contain small text snippets. For example, a title tag describes the title of a page, and a description tag briefly explains the purpose of a page. There are other tags as well, but most of them are invisible and can only be seen by looking at the source code. For example, the author tag that tells about the author name, and the language tag tells about the language of the page.

How Do Meta Tags Help SEO?

Meta tags are optimized to highlight the most important piece of content on a webpage to stand out from competitors in the search engine result page (SERP). 

As Danny Sullivan mentions, meta tags are a “legal” way of hiding important keywords in web pages for search engines. The goal is to enable search engines to get a summarized idea about the website through hidden descriptors. 

Search engines can understand the niche of a website and the topic within that niche for individual pages using meta tags. For example, if the website is about an agency that offers SEO services. Google bot can understand by reading the metadata that this is an agency website and the page is showing SEO services of this agency.

The Most Important Meta Tags for SEO

There are many types of meta tags that are used for different purposes but not all of them are relevant to SEO. For this article, only the most important meta tags would be covered.

Here are 3 important meta tags that can improve search engine optimization of a website.

1.Meta Tag

Credits: https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/16/how-to-write-meta-title-tags-for-seo-with-good-and-bad-examples/

This is the title tag of the page and it is the first thing that search engines show to users when they look at search results. The optimal length for a title tag is typically under 60 characters and it is placed in the <head> section of the HTML code of a website. (Source: Moz)

Why is it important for SEO?

As it is the first thing that users and search engines look at, therefore it is important to write an eye-catching page title so that users are attracted to visit the website’s page and read the content.

Image Source: https://www.advancedwebranking.com/blog/meta-tags-important-in-seo/

Recommendations for Title Tag

  • It should be brief yet descriptive
  • The title tag should be unique for each page
  • Do not use generic titles
  • Use title case or sentence case
  • Use keywords to match search intent
  • Do not stuff keywords
  • Add modifiers to the title tag (e.g., Review, Best, Top, Tips and Find etc.)

 

2.Meta Description

A meta description is the summary of the content of a webpage that is displayed under the meta title on SERP. The meta description is 160 characters long on desktop and 130 characters for mobile websites. (Source: SeoPressor)

Why is it important for SEO?

A meta description tag is a summary that describes the content of a web page.

This is filled with the main keyword and LSI keywords to boost rankings on search engines. Also, it is read by users after the title to decide whether to visit the website or not.

Recommendations

  • The content should be summarized accurately
  • Do not write generic descriptions
  • Match searcher’s intent
  • Use sentence case
  • Use relevant keywords
  • Each page should have a unique meta description
  • Keep it simple yet convincing

3.Meta Robots

Robots meta tags are HTML tags that tell web crawlers whether to index a web page on not. Indexing is the process by which a webpage appears on a search engine. If the meta tag is wrong, the webpage will not get indexed.

Syntax

<meta name=”robots” contents=”index, follow”>

Why is it important for SEO?

Meta robots’ control how search engines move around the website and pass link juice from page to page. This makes them an effective tool for on-page SEO. With this, you can control the interlinking of the website and avoid access to sensitive information on the website

Meta robots have four tags for web crawlers: 

Follow – Follow all links on this page

Index – Index this page

Nofollow – Do not follow this page and any links on it

Noindex – Do not index this page

Recommendations

  • Only use meta robot tags if the goal is to restrict the way Google crawls a website
  • Do not block pages with meta robot tags in robots.txt

Image Source: https://seo-hacker.com/what-meta-robots-tag-are-for/

Even though meta tags do not directly impact the search engine rankings, they are still used by search engines to understand the website’s content and to get access to the site’s pages. They also help searchers decide whether the site has what they are looking for or not. 

FAQs

Q1. Why are meta tags important?

Meta tags are important because they determine how the website will appear in SERPs and whether visitors will be attracted to click on the website or not. Thus, they influence the website’s click-through rate.

Q2. Are meta tags relevant in 2020?

While meta tags have no direct impact on a page’s ranking, they are still important because they help search engines identify the website’s content for the desired search query.

Q3. Does Google use meta tags?

Google still uses meta description, meta title and pages content to determine whether the webpage satisfies the searcher’ query. Hence, meta tags are important for a good ranking on Google. 

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