Meta Tags – What Are They and How do They Affect SEO?

Meta Tags – What Are They and How do They Affect SEO?

Search results on Google are often the place where clients encounter your online shop, business profile or news site. First impressions are important, so you should take great care of how you appear in searches. What matters for people also matters for Google bots, as we have found out not once and not twice. The same applies to meta tags: find out what they are and how they impact your SEO efforts.

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What are meta tags?

Meta tags are located in a <head> section on your page. They are placed in a source core and are also so-called HTML tags. Does it sound a bit too complicated? That may be so, but there is really nothing to be afraid of. If you manage your online shop on any available open-source software, finding a place to apply or optimize your desired meta tags shouldn’t be troublesome! It also shouldn’t cause too much hassle to find them in the existing source code of your website.

Some meta tags are visible to users. Others, though – quite the contrary. A large portion of tags serve to impact on SEO, so it’s high time for us to find out what types of tags exist, what they should consist of and why they should be optimized.

Title

Now and again we have heard that a <title> tag does NOT belong to meta tags, however, the proof is in the pudding. A <title> is crucial for a page  – and maybe that is the reason why it does not stand in the same row as meta tags, even if it also appears in the <head> section of a source code.

<title>Page title</title>

Title

Page title on SERPs

The Title tag is a crucial element of web positioning: even a slight modification could mess around SERPs! Been there, done that.

We don’t even have to say that Google is continuously changing – and so do outlines for titles. Coming up with an idea of a nice title can be relatively easy, but would it be an SEO-friendly title? In our article we will reveal a few secrets of the title that will rock search results and web positioning. Moreover, we are going to update it on a regular basis, so remember to save this article to your bookmarks!

Meta description

Meta description is just a short description of what a particular page includes. It is located in a website’s code, in the previously mentioned <head> section, staying almost invisible to users.

<META name=”Description” content=”unique page description”>

Why did we say “almost”? Well, users can see it along with the title in search results.

Meta description example

Meta description on SERPs

Some say that a meta description does not influence position on search results. However, it still does more good than harm to SEO: an appealing, catchy and relevant meta description can drive more traffic to your website and encourage users to get familiar with your content. An inappropriate meta description – even if it seems to be an appealing one, but not accurate for your website – can negatively affect bounce rate.

If you don’t generate your own meta description, it will be generated automatically from content published on your page. If needed, you can use a NoSnippet meta tag which disables displaying the description on the page.

<meta name="robots" content="nosnippet">

Unfortunately, the automatically generated meta description may turn out to be useless. A random piece of text, selected from a random place on your page, may not drive enough value to users to make them enter your website. To ensure that your meta description reflects the content on the page, you should always prepare it yourself… according to a few rules that are liked by Google. If you are wondering what those rules are, look no further and jump to the section that we have prepared. Following our tips, you will be capable of creating a meta description attractive both for Google and your users.

Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords are just sets of keywords chosen as the most significant for each page or subpage. They also are not visible to users and, yes, you will find them at the very start of the source code.

<meta name="Keywords" content="Selected keywords">

In the past, meta keywords were vital for web positioning and relatively easy (or even too easy!) to apply. Nowadays, maybe thanks to that ease, it is not taken into consideration by Google (however, Bing is still taking meta keywords into account).

For SEO purposes, you don’t have to enter keywords for each subpage. What’s more, enough is enough: too many keywords can bring about some negative effects for positioning, as Google bots may regard it as manipulation.

However, if you never try then you never know, especially in eCommerce. If you have some spare time and willingness to give meta keywords a go, you can add a few of them to selected products in your offer. It can be a real win-win situation: users can find it useful due to a better on-site search, plus it can make the identification of products easier.

Take a quick look at a great example of keywords for hanging lamps:

Meta keywords

Meta robots

Robots is another meta tag, however it differs from those we already mentioned above. While meta description, meta keywords and title are supposed to display valuable content to Google or users, meta robots also helps with hiding content we don’t want to show, without limiting access to the website for Google bots.

There are quite a few possibilities:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">  

It cuts access for bots to a particular subpage and has the possibility of deindexing it from a search engine. This feature comes in handy if we don’t want to drive traffic to a particular website or if we want to reduce duplication.

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">

It prevents bots from following links to others websites linked on our site.

To set those meta tags up, you can use robots.txt file which can easily be found on your website.

Meta viewport

Meta viewport is not as well-known as the tags we already described, however you should not underestimate it. It is crucial when it comes to optimization for mobile devices and gives you essential information about page scaling and dimensions, therefore it enables users to familiarize with your site on any device. Bearing in mind that mobile users rule the online world and Google previews Mobile First Index, Meta viewport definitely is not a tag to neglect.

<meta name=viewport content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

Original source

Another tag that can narrow Google bots and send them to desired content.

meta name=”original-source” content=”http://www.delante.pl/blog.html”.

Meta tag allows one to identify relevant content and it is extremely helpful if our page is full of content shared elsewhere on the Internet.

What effects will appropriately prepared meta tags bring?

Meta tags have a real big impact on SEO – and we can say it with some confidence, based on many years of observations. Obviously, there are meta tags that work better and worse, but until you test it out you can’t really say what works for your case.

One of the most important tags is the title, which has a huge impact on SEO positioning in Google. When optimized, it can boost your site to the top 20 or, in general, will qualify for indexing in Google. An increase in views can result in higher website traffic and conversion in the future. (However, conversion depends on many factors. If your website drives some traffic, but the conversion rate doesn’t grow, read our article “How to increase conversion and sales?”)

The second crucial tag is the meta description. Even if it may not affect positioning, it will hugely affect users. Along with the title, it often creates the very first impression of your brand for potential clients and encourages users to take action. The text is really short, but can be mighty if you care about its optimization.

How to create the best titles and meta descriptions for the main page and subpages?

The most important elements to take into account when creating titles and meta descriptions are:

1. Keywords

Once you start optimizing your website, it’s crucial to consider what keywords will be the most relevant for each page. As already mentioned, proper titles make a huge difference when it comes to the rank of your site. Don’t forget to include keywords in the <title>. That’s what makes it possible to adjust subpages to certain keyword phrases Internet users search for.

Keywords, that your potential clients search for, will also be highlighted in meta descriptions that should catch their attention. That’s why you should include them in the descriptions as well.

Search keywords

The name of your company is one of the most significant keywords that should be included in most, or even all, of your titles and meta descriptions. It’s basically what makes you stand out.

2. The length

Tag <title>

Appropriate length: 65-70 characters, 600px

Meta description

Appropriate length: 140-160 characters

The above-mentioned guidelines are relevant to most websites. Google likes changes though, which we had proof of recently when it shortened meta descriptions. Nonetheless, we aim to keep you informed of such changes.

Nowadays, titles and meta descriptions that are longer than recommended are being cut, with an ellipsis replacing the rest of the text that didn’t fit. That’s why it’s a good idea to put the most important keywords at the very beginning of any title or description and to keep an eye on how they are displayed in search engines.

Meta description too long

3. Engaging content

You should remember that a search engine is often the first point of contact with your brand, only then the website becomes your “business card”. Quality content should interest the users and encourage them to find out more about your company or your products. Don’t be afraid to include a Call-to-Action or mention discounts and promotions, if available.

4. Uniqueness

It’s important to remember that you have a lot of competition out there. In order to stand out, you need unique content that is attractive to your audience, both on your website and on Search Engine Results Pages. Even though website owners pay much attention to the title and meta description of the main page, they often skip or duplicate the titles of subpages (categories, products). Make sure you have different, unique texts in every relevant tag and section.

5. Texts properly adjusted to the content of each subpage (content, careers, single products…)

When writing your titles and meta descriptions, remember not to confuse the visitors. They should match the content of every subpage – otherwise they can make your potential clients disappointed.

6. Keeping it simple (avoiding “too much optimization”)

It’s important to optimise your website carefully. Keywords, CTAs and well-optimised content are important, but they shouldn’t only serve bots. They have to be simple and enjoyable to read, which won’t happen if you repeat the same phrases on and on, or write a lot of content once you’re at it. It will not only bring no benefits to your site, but can annoy your audience or Google itself.

Conclusion

Meta tags can influence both the optimisation of your website so that it ranks higher on Google searches, as well as its reception among Internet users. There are many ways to optimise your website properly, and the choice is yours. Thanks to the guidelines above you can start creating unique, quality titles and meta descriptions for your subpages today. If there are many of them or you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, we’ll gladly help. Remember that there’s always an option to “automate” the titles, depending on the variables you include in certain subpages (for example {category}, online store NAME OF THE STORE). It’s possible to set up with most Content Management Systems (CMS).

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Author
SEO Specialist - Klaudia

SEO Specialist

Enthusiast of marketing and psychology. For a year she has been exploring the secrets of SEO in Delante, dealing with optimizations on Polish and foreign websites of clients. After work she discovers the physical world by travelling and the astral world by practicing yoga. As high as our positions in SERPs.

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