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

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

Google search results are often the place where potential customers encounter your website for the first time. First impressions matter, so you should make sure that your page looks good in the SERPs. What are meta tags and how can they help with SEO? Keep reading!

Table of contents:

What is Meta Tag in SEO?

Meta tags are located in a <head> section of the page, in the source code. Does it sound complex? Don’t worry! There is 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 problematic!

Why are SEO meta tags important?

Because some of them are displayed to users, while others have an impact on your positions in the ranking. If you want to know, how exactly do meta tags help with SEO, keep reading!

What Meta Tags Should You Include on Your Website?

Meta Title

The <title> tag is the first element users see in the search results. A proper <title> tag should contain from 55 to 60 characters. It’s crucial for the page, and it also appears in the <head> section of the source code:

<title>Page title</title>

meta tag in seo title example

The title tag should start with a keyword the most important for a given page. It’s crucial to ensure that the elements described in the title can actually be found in the content.

Why is Meta Title Important for SEO?

The title meta tag is a vital element for SEO: even a slight modification can cause havoc in the search results. How do we know? We’ve been there, done that. It’s one of the most important elements that help both users and search engine robots understand what can be found on the website.

Google is constantly changing – and so do guidelines 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’ll reveal a few secrets that will help you rock the search results and SEO!

Meta Content Type

This SEO meta tag is crucial to determine the character set of your website. It’s present on every page and should look in the following way:

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1″>

Why is Meta Content Type Important for SEO?

Meta content is important for SEO as it affects the way the website is rendered in the browser. If you want to make sure that your page works properly, you should certainly implement it.

Meta Description

Meta description tag is just a short description of what a particular page includes. Proper meta descriptions should contain from 140 to 160 characters.

It is located in a website’s code, in the previously mentioned <head> section:

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

seo meta tags description example

Why is Meta Description Important for SEO?

Meta descriptions are displayed in the search results.

It’s worth noting that these elements don’t have a significant impact on SEO, however, they make the website stand out from the crowd, and may encourage users to choose a particular position from the search results.

An appealing, catchy, and relevant meta description can drive more traffic to your website and encourage users to browse your content. That’s why you shouldn’t overlook this SEO meta tag.

What if you leave the space empty?

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

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

Automatically generated meta descriptions may just be random pieces of text that don’t bring any value. To ensure that your meta description reflects the content on the page, you should always prepare it yourself.

Meta Keywords

Meta keywords are sets of keywords chosen as the most significant for each page or subpage. They aren’t displayed to users, but you can find them at the very start of the source code.

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

Meta keywords should correspond to website content and should be selected in a way that helps you reach your business goals.

Why are Meta Keywords Important for SEO?

In the past, meta keywords were vital for the SEO process and relatively easy to apply. Nowadays, they aren’t taken into account by Google.

What should you do?

SEO-wise, you don’t have to enter keywords for each page. In fact, too many keywords can bring a counterproductive effect, as Google bots may regard them as manipulation.

Keep your meta keywords natural and precise. Take a quick look at a great example of keywords on a website offering hanging lamps:

what is meta tag in seo

Meta Robots

Robots is another SEO meta tag, however, it differs from those we’ve already mentioned above.

How?

While meta descriptions, keywords, and titles are supposed to show valuable content to Google and users, meta robots help to hide content you don’t want to show.

There are quite a few combinations:

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

It prevents the bots from accessing a particular page and gives them the possibility to index it out from the search results. This feature comes in handy if we don’t want to attract traffic to a particular page or if you want to reduce duplication.

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

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

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

Why are Meta Robots Important for SEO?

As it’s been already mentioned, meta robots prevent search engine crawlers from accessing specific elements of your website that don’t benefit users and don’t have a positive impact on SEO.

Thanks to it, you can fully use the potential of the website and save your crawl budget, meaning the number of pages that can be indexed by the search engine robots during a single visit to your page.

Meta Viewport

Meta viewport is not as popular as the meta tags we’ve already described, however you shouldn’t underestimate it. Why? It’s crucial when it comes to mobile SEO and gives you essential information about the page.

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

Why is Meta Viewport Important for SEO?

Meta viewport enables users to browse your site on any device. Bearing in mind that mobile users rule the online world and Google puts great emphasis on Mobile-First Index, you should definitely focus on this SEO meta tag if you want to rank higher.

How do Meta Tags Help with SEO?

Meta tags have a really big impact on SEO – and we can say that based on many years of our observations. Obviously, there are SEO meta tags that affect positions more and less, but until you test various solutions you can’t really say what works best in your case.

What is the most important?

The title is one of the most important meta tags. It has a huge impact on SEO. When optimized, it can boost your site’s positions in the ranking, which may lead to higher website traffic and conversions in the future.

The meta description is another important element. Even if it doesn’t affect SEO, it has an impact on users. It often affects the very first impression of your brand and encourages users to take action. The text is really short but can be powerful if you care about its optimization.

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How to Create the Best Titles and Meta Descriptions?

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 are the most relevant for each page.

As already mentioned, proper meta titles make a huge difference when it comes to the position of your site. Don’t forget to include keywords in the <title> to adjust the pages to specific keyword phrases users search for.

Keywords that your potential clients search for should also be used in meta descriptions and catch the attention. 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.

html meta tags for seo keywords

2. Length

<title> tag appropriate length: 55-60 characters, 600px

Meta description appropriate length: 140-160 characters, 960px

The above-mentioned guidelines are relevant to most websites. Nowadays, titles and meta descriptions that are longer than recommended are compressed, and an ellipsis is displayed to replace the rest of the text that doesn’t fit. That’s why it’s a good idea to put the most important keywords at the very beginning of the title or description and to keep an eye on how they are displayed in the search results.

seo meta description too long

3. Engaging Content

Why does it matter? You should remember that the search engine is often the first point of contact with your brand, only then the website becomes your “business card”.

Quality content should attract users and encourage them to find out more about your company or products. Don’t be afraid to use a CTA or mention discounts and special offers in the content.

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 in the SERPs.

What should you do?

Website owners pay much attention to the title and meta description of the home 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. Tags Tailored to the Content of Each Subpage

When writing your titles and meta descriptions, remember not to confuse the visitors. The tags should match the content of every page – otherwise, they can deter your potential customers.

Tailor your content to different subpages. Products, categories, and blogs deserve different treatment and meta tags to be useful for visitors. If someone is looking for a specific product, let’s say hiking shoes model xyz, and encounters your blog post about how to choose the best hiking shoes, they are not going to be satisfied. It’s simply not what they expected.

Keep your potential customers in mind and use correct SEO meta tags.

6. Simplicity

It’s important to optimize your website carefully. Keywords, CTAs, and content are important, but they shouldn’t serve only bots. They have to be simple and enjoyable to read.

How to create such tags?

Don’t repeat the same phrases on and on. Think about your potential visitors and determine why they might want to enter your page. The title and description should show them what to expect from the website and why it’s worth visiting it.

Meta Tags – Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

There are a few mistakes you should avoid when creating SEO meta tags. The most important ones include:

  • Meta tags that are too long – if your titles or descriptions are too long, they won’t be displayed completely to users. This is why an ideal title tag should have between 55 and 60 characters, whereas the description should be between 140 and 160 characters. Otherwise, Google will truncate them.
  • Meta tags that are too short – although too long tags are a problem, titles and descriptions that are too short are even more dangerous. Why? Because in this case Google may choose some random pieces of content and add them to your tags. This may have a negative impact on your traffic and conversions. Title tags and meta descriptions are the first elements your potential customers encounter in the search results. Make sure that they are appealing and correct!
  • Meta tags are duplicated – some website owners use the same descriptions and titles on numerous pages. It’s a serious mistake that may confuse both Google and users. If people enter a specific phrase into Google and they see a few pages with the same title and description, they probably won’t know which one is correct. If they’re looking for a product but enter a blog post, they may leave the website and select another one that communicates in an open way. When it comes to Google, duplicated titles and descriptions waste the potential of the pages, as the robots aren’t sure which keywords should be assigned to specific pages.
  • Meta tags don’t match the content – the title tag and meta description should give users a brief snapshot of the page and inform them what to expect. If you don’t inform the search engine robots what can be found on the page, they won’t index it properly. Meta tags that don’t match the content can have a negative impact on the bounce rate and rankings.
  • Meta tags are stuffed with keywords – although keywords are vital elements of title tags and meta descriptions, they should be applied naturally. Keyword stuffing looks suspicious to both users and search engine robots. If people see that your page title or description contains only a list of random keywords, they certainly won’t click the link. Moreover, keyword stuffing is one of the important factors decreasing website positions in Google. If you do it notoriously, your page may be penalized or removed from the index. Instead of using too many key phrases, create a unique title and description that will intrigue potential customers.

What are Meta Tags in SEO? The Takeaway

Meta tags can influence both the SEO process and your recognition among users. There are many ways to optimize your website properly, so the choice is yours.

With the above guidelines, you can start creating unique, quality titles and meta descriptions for your website. If you have any doubts, contact us – we’ll be more than happy to help you!

This is an update of an article published in 2019. 

FAQ

Definitely! Meta tags are one of the most important elements of technical SEO.

Optimizing SEO meta tags can significantly contribute to increasing a website’s rank in search results for a specific keyword. The most crucial tag for SEO is the title.

Meta description, the second important one, won’t influence the SEO but can really increase the organic traffic by boosting website CTR.

Meta tags are implemented in the <head> section of your website. The majority of CMSes has an option of quick meta tags set up (via dedicated plug-ins) or setting up global meta tags for chosen subpages.

Unfortunately not. Google algorithms are being constantly updated and requirements regarding meta tags are changing as well. Therefore, you need to monitor their performance and react accordingly.

Also, it’s good to update meta tags after a couple of months since the content has been published. You need to check on what keywords the website is being displayed. It may be that you’ll have to adjust the phrases initially included in meta tags.

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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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