You spend time carefully crafting content for your readers and customers. But you must do the same for search engines. Meta tag SEO is one way to help search engine crawlers absorb, understand, and index your content
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What Is Meta Tag SEO?
Meta tag SEO is the process of adding hidden information – or meta tags – to the code of a webpage to help search engines better recognize what the page is about. If search engines clearly recognize what a page is about, and determine it to be highly valuable to readers it is more likely to rank well in search..
A meta tag is a snippet of code that describes a page’s content. Each meta tag description explains a different element on the page and helps crawlers learn about the content.
Most meta tag information is invisible to users and only readable by search engine crawlers, as it is added to the code of the page and not the visible content. Although, some meta information is visible on search engine results pages such as title tags and meta descriptions.
What Are the Most Useful Meta Tags?
Because meta tags provide information about page content, they have a significant impact on SEO. However, not all meta tags are created equal. Some tags that were popular a few years ago are nearly irrelevant today
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For example, at one time, meta tag keywords, a series of top keywords that described a page and were placed in the code of the page, were closely tied with SEO and ranking. But meta keywords have lost most of their relevance compared to other elements of meta tag SEO.
The authorship meta tag is another example of an outdated element. Back in 2013, authorship was a hot topic in the SEO world, as bloggers scrambled to make sure their icons topped the list of search results. A few years later, the authorship program was discontinued, meaning author tags no longer hold the same significance they had five years ago.
The rest of this article will focus on meta tag examples that have staying power, so you can improve your SEO without chasing the latest and greatest trends.
Title tags are one of the most important meta tags to include in SEO content. The title tag tells search engines the title of the page, which may be different from the headline that appears on the page. You can change the title to simplify the phrase and make it easier for search engine crawlers to read and understand.
The title tag is included in the code of your page.
It is also visible to audiences on search engine results pages.
As you create a title tag, keep these content writing tips in mind:
- Limit your title to 60 characters.
- Place your keywords close to the front of the title.
- Create unique titles for each page.
- Don’t write just for search engines; make sure humans find value in the title.
While you can use long and colorful headlines at the top of your page, your title tag should have an SEO focus and get to the point, helping both readers and search engines understand the body of the article. A relevant, descriptive, but succinct title is more likely to convert.
A meta description is a summary of what a page is about. It’s code that consists of two to three sentences describing what the content is about. While it doesn’t have a direct impact on a page’s rankings, that doesn’t mean it lacks SEO value.
Like the title tag, SEO meta descriptions are forward-facing for your customers. The meta description is what readers see in the SERPs, so marketers should use this blurb as an opportunity to drive clicks and traffic to their page.
As you write your meta description, consider these factors.
- Limit your meta description to less than 320 characters.
- Provide a value proposition to the readers.
- Include keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Add a soft call to action and sell readers on your brand.
Meta tag SEO best practices also include a viewport tag. The viewport tag has become increasingly valuable with the rise of mobile phone usage.
A viewport is the area of the window where web content can be viewed. This area is often different from what the user sees, leaving audiences to pinch or scroll to read the content. The viewport tag gives developers the power to address the content’s size and scale, making websites more mobile-friendly.
Site speed and mobile friendliness are important white hat SEO best practices that make up a good website experience.
If your site loads slowly or your audience bounce because of a poor rendering, then Google notices and flags your website as being a bad experience
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. A bad mobile experience hurts your SEO while driving away your users. Taking time to add a viewport tag can improve your mobile view and results.
A robots meta tag tells search engine crawlers how they should (or shouldn’t) crawl and index your page. It tells crawlers what items you want them to notice or ignore.
You don’t necessarily need this tag on your page if you simply want search engine crawlers to approach all of your content normally. But you may want to use limiting tags to prevent negative SEO problems if you use borrowed images or syndicated content.
Like meta tags, there are multiple robots meta tags you can use. However, there are a few common ones you are likely to turn to over others:
- Noindex: tells search engines not to index the page
- Noimageindex: tells search engines not to index the images
- None: tells search engines not to do anything with the page at all
- Nofollow: tells search engines not to follow any links on the page
- Noarchive: tells search engines not to archive the content
These commands can boost your meta tag SEO by preventing duplicate content penalties or making your page look like it links to spammy websites. It serves as a housekeeping tool for how you want to present your brand.
Quickly Check Your Meta Tag SEO
Use Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker to enter a URL from a page on your website along with the page’s assigned target keyword. The tool will provide a report on meta tag errors and available optimization tactics you can implement to improve the page.
For other meta tag considerations, use Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool. The tool runs a full report on dozens of SEO factors for your site, including the status of meta tags. Enter your site to receive a report and list of tips on how to fix issues and better optimize your website.
With tools by Alexa, you can update your meta tag SEO and create an optimization plan that boosts your rankings. Sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan and see what you can learn about your SEO status, audience, competitors, and content opportunities.