A meta tag is an element of HTML code that describes the content of your page not only to search engines, but also to Internet users who see your website in the SERPs. Meta tags only appear in the page code, and anyone can check them via the website’s source code. Search engines use them to help determine the content of a web page, but not all meta tags are vital for SEO
You’ve heard of SEO over and over again and how you should always aspire to achieve that #1 SERP position.
But have you ever stopped to think about what exactly Google does to know what’s on your page and how it knows what to display in the search results?
Well, you should know that there are a few things you should add to your code to help search engine spiders better understand what your website pages consist of.
And they are called META tags.
- What are they and why are they important?
- What are the main types of meta tags?
- How to check them on a website?
This is a set of questions that I will answer in the rest of this mini-guide.
So let’s get started!
Chapter 1: What are META tags and why are they important?
In this first chapter, I will go a little deeper into the definition of the meta tag and give the reasons why some of them are essential for SEO.
1.1. what are meta tags?
” Meta tags are a great way for webmasters to provide search engines with information that is on their sites. They can be used to provide information to all kinds of customers, and each robot only processes the meta tags it understands and ignores the rest. They are added to the section of your HTML page ” Google, 2020.
The word ” meta ” is an abbreviation for metadata. Essentially, metadata tags are text found in the code of a Web page and whose purpose is to describe the content of this page to search engines such as :
- And Yahoo
These texts include information such as:
- The title of the page
- The description
- The type of content
According to John Mueller, webmaster trends analyst at Google
” Meta tags can affect how users see your site in search results and whether or not they will click through to your site. “
Meta tags are embedded in the section of an HTML document and therefore must be coded in your CMS
Depending on the platform that supports your website, the coding can be simple or complicated. However, an “out-of-the-box” solution like WordPress will have a section dedicated to these tags like the canonical links or the meta descriptions.
Meta tags have left a conflicting legacy, as many marketers have experimented and manipulated the algorithms search engine algorithms through keyword stuffing.
To combat this, Google has changed its algorithm on how it handles and reviews these tags.
Nevertheless, before I list the ones to add to your website, I will give you the reasons why they are so important.
1.2. Why are Meta tags important?
As I mentioned in the previous section, meta tags offer more insight about your site to search engines and users who encounter your site in SERPs
They can be optimized to highlight crucial elements of your content and make your website look good in search results.
L’perfect user experience is a very important criterion that search engines are increasingly appreciating, and this is achieved by the way your site best satisfies the users’ query
The meta tags tags contribute to this by ensuring that the information searchers need about your site is displayed in advance (in the SERPs) in a concise and useful
User experience also involves ease of navigation on your site by visitors and search engine crawlers, and this is mainly achieved through the structure of your website
In fact, some types of these tags, when used properly, allow for a good page structure, which allows an easy navigation on your site
At the same time, other types of meta tags (such as the canonical tag or the robot meta tag), tell search engines which pages of your site to consider and which to ignore.
In all, there are many types of metadata tags that serve different purposes, but not all of them are related to SEO. You will find in this complete guide to meta tags tags a complete list.
However, for the purposes of this quick guide, I’ve selected the 10 most important metadata tags you need to know about for optimizing your site’s performance in the SERPs.
Chapter 2: Top 10 meta tags for SEO and how to check them on a website
In this section, I will explain the 10 most important meta tags for SEO that you should focus on to help your business appear in the right SEO results:
- Title tag
- Meta Description
- Canonical tag
- Alternative Text Tag
- Meta Robots tag
- Open graphics Meta tags and Twitter cards
- Header Tags
- Responsive Design Meta Tag
- Schema tag
- Meta Content-Type
By using these meta tags correctly, you can increase the performance of your website.
Next, we will see how to check them on a website.
2.1. Top 10 Meta Tags
2.1.1. Title tag
The title tag is the first HTML element that specifies the subject of your web page. It is the first thing your audience sees on search results pages. They will judge your content based on your tag
If you want to reach more prospects interested in your business, you need to optimize your title tag well.
They appear not only on the search engine results page (SERP), but also in the browser tabs.
The title tag is displayed on all browsers, mainly
Your title is a preview of your content. So you need to make sure that the title tag is informative so that your audience can get a better idea of your page
A reasonable title tag will encourage users to click on your ad and interact with your content.
When creating your title tag, make sure it is clear and descriptive. Since this is an overview of your page, you need to make sure you tell your audience exactly what to expect when they click through to your site
You also need to make sure that you include your most important keyword in your title to help your website rank in relevant results.
The title tag should always be added in the section of your site:
Most CMS platforms automatically insert your title tag into your source code when you create it. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about manually adding it to your HTML .
Meta Title Best Practices Recap:
- Meta Title length should be around 55-65 characters;
- Add words that indicate the topic of your content, such as How, Reviews, Best, Tips, Top, Search, Buy… ;
- Use long long tail keywords or keywords with more than 4 words, such as: “is my site mobile friendly” or “how to make a website mobile friendly” ;
- Add numbers to your title, such as: “9 HTML tags that will improve SEO” ;
- Start your title tag with your main target keyword and avoid keyword stuffing ;
- Just like duplicate content on a page, Google is not a fan of duplicate titles (and descriptions, for that matter), and it affects your site’s performance. So make sure each page has its own unique meta title.
2.1.2. Meta description
The second most important meta tag for search engines is the meta description. This is an HTML element that summarizes the content of your web page.
Search engines usually display it in the search results under your title tag.
Here is an example of one:
Similar to the titlethe meta-description provides your audience with an overview of your page. At this level, you must be clear, descriptive and use your main keyword.
It is true that Google does not use the meta description as a ranking signal. However, it still has a huge effect on the click-through rate (CTR) of your page, as it appears in the search results and informs users what your page is about.
It also helps search engines understand the context of your page and rank you in relevant search results.
However, note that Google’s algorithm may replace your meta description with another part of the page’s content if it seems more valuable (Google knows better, after all.)
Like title tags, most CMS platforms automatically add your meta description tag to your code
If not, you can install plug-ins to help you add your meta description tag Yoast and All-in-One SEO are two of the most used plugins for WordPress websites.
Recently, Google has changed the length of the meta description it will display in SERPs. In fact, the search engine giant has confirmed that it has shortened the search result snippets after expanding them.
Google’s head of public search, Danny Sullivandanny Sullivan, Google’s head of public search, said there was no fixed length for the snippets.
The new average length of the description snippet field on computers is about 160 characterscompared to about 300+ characters.
Moving characters for search result snippets are now reduced to 130 on average.
Summary of some best practices for meta description tags:
- Don’t add a duplicate meta description
- Add a clear call to action (CTA) in your descriptions like “apply today”, “check out ____” or one of these 100 CTA keywords for your marketing campaign
- Add your targeted keywords in the descriptions
- Add any discounts or offers you have.
This way you’ll have a compelling description tag.
John Mueller 2017
“We’ve been trying to show longer descriptions in search results and I think that’s something that more and more people are seeing. For the descriptions that we show, we try to focus on the meta description that you provide on your pages, but if we need more information or more context based on the user’s query, we may be able to take parts of the page as well. Essentially from a purely technical standpoint, these descriptions are not a ranking for anything. So it’s not true that changing your descriptions, making them longer or shorter, editing them or inserting keywords into them will affect the ranking of your site. “
2.1.3. Canonical tag
A canonical tag tag is an HTML link tag with the attribute ” rel = canonical “. It is used to indicate that there are other versions of a web page.
By implementing the canonical tag in your website code, you are telling search engines that this URL is the main page and that they should not index any other pages.
That is, the canonical tag emphasizes the main URL and guides crawlers to it
This tag is crucial to ensure that Google does not penalize your site for using identical content. The latter is usually a negative SEO indicator
Furthermore, with the canonical tag, you guide your audience to the right page. This tag is especially useful if you have created a new page for your site and you do not want users to access the old one
Here is the example syntax used to add a canonical tag:
2.1.4. Alternative text
Alt Text is one of the lesser known meta tags for search engines Alt Text (alternate text) is an image optimization meta tag
This tag allows you to add a description of your photo that will be read if the image is not displayed or if people are using screen readers.
When you use the text alternative, you make images accessible to people and search engines. Google will not be able to effectively read the images and know what they are if there was no alt text tag
Therefore, alt text helps Google understand the context of the image to properly rank your page and image.
You should create clear and concise descriptions that are easy to understand for those with accessibility needs. Don’t confuse your description with keywords in hopes of ranking higher for those keywords.
You can incorporate a keyword or two into your alt text, but only if it fits and flows naturally with the text. Don’t force yourself to include keywords.
This way, you can include graphics or images on your website without damaging your SEO.
When creating alt text for your website, use the following syntax:
Here are some tips for your alt text tags:
- Always use a proper description and never stuff your keyword into this tag;
- You must add appropriate alt text to images so that search engines know how to interpret them;
- Use informative file names;
- Be clear and precise;
- Create an image sitemap;
- Use 50-55 characters (up to 16 words) in the alt text;
- Use a medium or small file size for faster page load speed – just don’t compromise the image resolution.
2.1.5. Header Tags
When you create content for your page, you often divide it into sections with header tags. These tags help structure your page and make your content more digestible for your audience, i.e. indicate the hierarchy of information on the page.
They are especially essential for SEO, as they help the search engine to better understand your content
Header tags allow search engines and users to browse your content efficiently. These header tags structure your content and create a flow for reading your page.
Heading elements range from H1 to H6H1 is the largest and most important level, and H6 is the smallest and least important.
If you mark text with an H1tag, you are telling search engines that this is the most important text on the page.
In addition, headlines give your audience a better experience on your site. If they can easily read and digest your content, they are more likely to stay on your page longer
This behavior will decrease the bounce rate on your site, which will then increase your SEO ranking and allow you to reach more interested prospects.
When using header tags on your page, don’t overuse them. Each header should serve a purpose to help make your page more organized
They are meant to present the main points in different sections of your page, so only use them when necessary.
By optimizing SEO meta tags like headersby optimizing SEO meta tags like headers, you will create a more useful page that will rank higher in search results.
2.1.6. Meta Robots tag
The purpose of the meta robots tag is to tell search engines to index or not to index a web page.
This tag has four main values for search engine robots:
- FOLLOW – The search engine’s crawler will follow all links on this web page;
- INDEX – The search engine crawler will will index the whole web page;
- NOFOLLOW – The search engine crawler will will NOT follow the page and the links of this web page;
- NOINDEX – The search engine crawler will NOT will NOT index this web page.
Use the following syntax for your tag meta robots :
: Means not to index or follow this web page;
: Means to index and follow this web page.
Remember that the robots meta tag must be placed in the section section of your web page.
2.1.7. Meta Open Graph and Twitter Cards tags
These tags facilitate social network synchronization.
The Meta Open Graph Tags meta Tags help link Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google… to your website.
Here are the five most frequently used open graph tags when sharing on these platforms:
- Og: type – Describes the type of content you are sharing. Blogs, websites and articles are the most common for businesses.
- Og: url – Sets the URL of the content you are sharing.
- Og : title – Indicates the title of the content you are sharing.
- Og : description – Quite similar to a meta-description. It describes the content of the page and must be well written to attract clicks.
- Og : image – Ensures that an image is attached to social shares to attract attention with visuals.
Here is an example of how Open Graph tags look in standard HTML:
Twitter Cards meta tags work the same way as Open Graph, except for Twitter.
Twitter will use these tags to improve the display of your page when it is shared on their platform.
Here is an example of how the twitter card in standard HTML :
2.1.8. Responsive Design Meta Tag
The last important meta tag is the Responsive Design Meta Tagtag, also called HTML Meta tag Viewport.
Have you ever loaded a website page on your phone only to find that it is not scaled properly and you have to move around the screen to find what you need?
Yes, this website page forgot to add a meta viewport tag.
The meta viewport tag is what makes websites responsive when used on different devices.
The meta viewport tags allow web designers to configure how a page is scaled and displayed on any device.
In the first image, the text is hard to read, but in the second, the text and image match the screen dimensions.
You can find the viewport element in the section of your web page.
The responsive design meta tags look like this:
There is one exception to the Meta Viewport tag rule: Don’t use it if your website pages are not responsive, as it will worsen the user experience. You can use this tool from Google to see if your site is mobile-friendly Mobile-Friendly Test – Google Search Console.
2.1.9. Schema tag
Mainly, the schema is a type of tag that helps to give more clarity on different parts of a website to allow search engine algorithms to have a better understanding of the type of content available on the site
There are a variety of schemas that can be used on your website to allow Google to categorize your business, products or other important information
For example, if you run a local business, the main type of schema for local SEO is the organization scheme. In it, you should put :
- The name of the company
- L’address of the company
- The telephone number of the company
- And other important details related to your business.
2.1.10. Meta Content-Type
A content-type meta content-type tag must appear on every page. It defines your character set and tells the browser how to read / parse the file.
In this example, the meta tag of content-type indicates that the page is an HTML page and that the character set is utf-8.
2.2. Not so essential meta tags
I don’t want to go into too much detail about non-essential meta tags, well, because I don’t think they are necessary for every website page!
But, in case you’re dying to know, here’s a quick list of those meta tags that aren’t essential:
- META Tag Generator generator: This is actually BAD. I don’t recommend using it;
- Copyright this is already in the footer of every website page;
- Keyword tag : Google doesn’t use it anymore to rank the pages;
- Meta Geo tag tag: Google does not use it to rank the pages either;
- Site verification check your site with Google Search Console ;
2.3. how to check Meta tags on a website?
Right, you can’t find Meta tags when you have a website page open. But, by checking the source of the page, you really can!
Here’s how to do it:
- Head to any website page of your choice;
- Once on the page, right click;
- Click on Show page source code or press Ctrl + U and you will see a new tab open;
- That’s it! All the meta tags that have been added to this page can be found here.
There are also a handful of free and easy to use tools that can extract the meta tags from any website simply by copying and pasting the URL of the page
Some of these tools are:
- Meta Tags Analyzer from Small SEO Tools ;
- Hey Meta ;
- Open Graph Check ;
2.4. Some tips to optimize your Meta Tags
It is certain that you already have several contents on your website. For this, you must take the trouble to correct the mistakes you have made thanks to a bad use of meta tags on these contents.
Here is a checklist that can help you check your performance with these tags:
- Check if the title tag and the meta descriptions are present on all your pages;
- Give more importance to your titles and the structure of your content ;
- Don’t forget to use the alternative text (Alt text) tag in your images;
- Use the meta robot tag tag to tell search engines how they should access your content;
- Look for pages that are similar or duplicated and use canonical tags on the main version of each of them;
- Create a list of steps you need to take every time you create new content and make using meta tags part of your routine.
Chapter 3: Other Questions About Meta Tags
3.1 What is the meta tag?
Meta tags are HTML tags that describe the content of a web page to search engines and website visitors
In fact, search engines such as Google use the metadata in these tags to understand additional information about the web page
They can use this information for ranking purposes, to display snippets in search results, and can likewise sometimes ignore these tags. Examples of meta tags include
3.2. What is the purpose of meta tags?
The tag defines metadata about an HTML document. They are always placed inside the element and are typically used to specify to search engines:
- The character set
- The description of the page
- The keywords
- The author of the document;
- The window parameters ;
- And so on.
In short, these tags provide Google with more information about your web pages.
3.3. Are meta tags important?
In fact, they have an impact on how your site appears in the SERPs and how many people are inclined to click on your website. So they will impact your traffic and engagement rates, which can impact your SEO and ranking. They are an important part of a solid SEO strategy.
3.4. What are the important meta tags for SEO?
We have the tag:
- Meta title;
- Meta description;
- Canonical ;
- Alternative text ;
- Header tag ;
- Meta Robots ;
- Schema ;
- Responsive Design ;
The first two play a very important role in the SEO plan of a website, because they contain keywords and phrases that describe the content of a page.
3.5. What are the best practices for creating a <
> and < > meta tag for SEO?
Support meta descriptions with strong page titles:
- Use the main keyword, but in moderation;
- Place the keyword at the beginning of the title;
- Focus primarily on readers, not search engines alone; and
- Highlight the benefits and value of your topic;
- Include your brand name where appropriate;
- Keep your headlines to no more than 60 characters;
- Write unique and different page titles for each page;
- Add words that indicate what your content is about, such as “How to”, “Reviews”, “Best”, “Tips”, “Top”, “Search” or “Buy”.
3.6. How to check the meta tags on a web page?
If you want to know if a given page uses meta tags, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Show page source”
A new tab will open in Chrome (in Firefox, it will be a pop-up window). The top, or “head” of the page, is where the meta tags would be.
3.7. Is the meta tag still important?
NO! If you want to rank high in Google, just focus on creating high quality content and keeping users happy.
3.8. Does Google use meta keywords?
In short, Google does not use the information in the meta keywords tag or the meta description tag to rank pages, but it does use the text in the meta description to create search snippets.
3.9. What is a meta description in SEO?
A meta description (sometimes called a meta description attribute or tag) is an HTML element that describes and summarizes the content of your page for the benefit of users and search engines
3.10. What is the difference between meta tags and keywords?
Google does not use the meta keywords tag, but it does use keywords to help identify the relevance of a website to a user’s search
To rank your website against competitors’ websites, the search engine looks for keywords in:
- The content of the page;
- THE URL ;
- The title tag;
- And the description tag
3.11. What are social meta tags?
Just as page title tags as well as meta description tags help improve organic search engine rankings, social meta tags are elements of your HTML that boost social exposure, increase social media traffic and improve click-through rates.
3.12. What is the Facebook meta tag?
When a link is shared, Facebook and Twitter scrape the associated web page and read its tags to display the appropriate information. Facebook uses these tags by leveraging the Open Graph protocol, a web page classification system that goes beyond the tags already defined in HTML5.
Now that you know almost everything about META tags, I can say that you’re ready to optimize your web pages for search!
Make sure your SEO is as effective as possible by double checking your meta tag usage
Let the search engines better understand what is on your page so they can better display it in the SERPs to entice users to click on your result!
See you soon!