meta tags

SEO Meta Tags: The Only Guide You Need To Read

Written by: Akanshha Agrawal on

Meta tags are part of the overall website code. These are used to communicate with the search engine. Meta tags control how the information will be displayed on the webpage. Due to this, SEO meta tags is a crucial part of the overall on-page SEO.

Search engines are also learning more about meta tags as they go. Some of the policies that were implemented earlier have completely changed.

Everything you will know after reading this article:

  • The different kinds of meta tags.
  • When you should use the meta tags.
  • Which meta tags are helpful v which aren’t.

What is SEO for Meta Tags?

Meta tags provide additional data about your content. Search engines use this for ranking different websites. Simply put, meta tags help search engines understand the nature of your content and use it while indexing the results. Due to this, SEO meta tags is an extremely important part of overall SEO.

Meta tags are invisible and used by search engines to extract information. There are many different kinds of meta tags, and each serves a different purpose. Optimizing all of this is important for meta tags marketing.

For example, some of the meta tags, such as the title tag, create a structure for the document. A well-structured article provides a better user experience. Google and other search engines will view this preferably and rank your website higher.

On the other hand, Google might also use meta tags to see how well the website satisfies the user search query. This can be done by the meta description or the meta title.

As meta tags can only be used in a limited number of scenarios, they do a better job of highlighting the nature of the content. Search engines know that you can only discuss the most important points of your content in the meta tag. Therefore, SEO of meta tags is crucial for improving rankings.

Meta Title

The meta title tag is used to indicate the title of the webpage. This title will be displayed on the search engine results page and will be the first thing seen by the users. It offers an idea about the nature of the content. This is one of the few parts of SEO meta tags that users read.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind while writing the meta title:

  • Clear: The meta title should be clear and to the point. There is no point in using fancy words or complicated sentence structure. A good trick is to write as if you are communicating with a middle school kid.
  • Concise: Google only displays about 55-60 characters of the title while listing the search results. Due to this, it is extremely important to keep the meta tags concise. You should make sure the reader is able to see the entire title.
  • Keyword: You should use the primary keyword within the meta title. If possible, the keyword should be used at the beginning of the title. However, keep in mind that stuffing the title with a keyboard is useless and will lead to a lower ranking.
  • Descriptive: The meta title should provide an understanding of what is included within the webpage. Try to be as specific as possible.
  • Readable: Readability is one of the most important factors to keep in mind. The meta title is one of the few ways for you to communicate with your audience before they read your content.
  • Unique: Make sure you write a unique title for each web page. The tag should connect with your content rather than blindly copying the titles of your competitors.

Common Mistakes

Keep an eye out for these common mistakes:

  • Adding multiple meta titles to one post.
  • Not adding a meta title.
  • Adding the same meta title to multiple posts.  

You can add a meta title by using this code: <title>This is the title of the page.</title>

Meta Description

The meta description tells the readers what can be expected from the article. This is more than just a summary of the post. The goal of the meta description is to give a snippet to the user and encourage them to read the article. This is very important for overall SEO meta tags.

Meta descriptions should have two parts:

  • Summary: Add a two line summary of the article. Make sure you don’t just repeat the title in your meta description.
  • Call to action: Add a clear call to action in every description. This can be anything such as “Read to find out!” or “Click for the in-depth guide!”.

Here are some of the tips that you should follow while writing the meta description:

  • Clear: Use clear language that resonates with the audience. Just like the meta title, there is no point in using complicated words.
  • Concise: Keep it short and to the point. Make sure the description is under 160 characters. All you need to do is give an insight into the most crucial aspect of your content. You can use tools such as SERP Simulator by Mangools to make sure you get it right.
  • Keyword:  You should always use your primary keyword in the description. However, as with everything else, don’t stuff keywords here. Make sure the description is readable.
  • Search intent: There are different reasons for which users search for content. The description is a great way to tell your users what the search intent is. For example, if the intent is information, you can phrase such as “Read more” or “Find out here!”.
  • Unique: You should always write a unique description for each web page.

You might have noticed that following these guidelines isn’t very difficult. However, we still see common mistakes every day.

  • Description stuffed with keywords in an attempt to over optimize.
  • The same description is copied to every page.
  • No meta description.

You can add meta title by using this code: <meta name=”description” content=”Place the meta description text here.”>

Meta Robots

Meta robots are crucial for SEO meta tags. Meta robots tell the search engines how to crawl and index your webpage. Using this, you can decide which page should be indexed in the search results and which shouldn’t.

There are different kinds of meta robots:

  • index: used when you want the page to be indexed.
  • noindex: used when you don’t want the page to be indexed.
  • follow: used when you want to follow the links on your page.
  • nofollow: used when you don’t want the bots to follow the links on your page.
  • noimageindex: used when you don’t want any images from your page to be indexed.

Meta robots play an impactful role in determining the search results. Therefore, you should pay attention to it and use the tags properly.

You can add meta robots by using: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>. The content can be replaced based on the kind of meta robot you wish to use. 

Meta Refresh Redirect

You might have come across this many times, especially if you have tried to download something online. The meta refresh redirects tag tells the browser to redirect to a different website, usually after a few seconds.

The key point to note here is that meta refresh redirect tags actually aren’t the best for SEO meta tags. This is because the meta refresh redirects tag actually refreshes the page than redirecting the user. On to this, the tag is not supported by all browsers. However, this does not have a negative impact on page ranking.

If the purpose is to redirect, then using a 301 redirect is a much better option. However, if due to some reason you need to use the meta refresh redirect tag, then you should follow these guidelines:

  • Update the XML sitemap with a redirect target.
  • Update internal links which point to the redirect target.

You can add meta redirect refresh tag in the head section of your website: <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”5;url=”https://example.com/”>.

Meta Charset

Meta Charset tag communicates how the text should be displayed. This helps in encoding the text. Without it, the browser wouldn’t know how to encode and display text. As far as readability is concerned, the meta charset tag is the most important component of the overall SEO meta tags.

If you don’t use the appropriate meta charset, this can lead to some of the characters not being displayed or being displayed incorrectly. This means that you cannot communicate with the readers as well as you would like.

This can reduce user satisfaction and increase the bounce rate from your website. On top of that, it can also create issues with the crawling of your web page. However, as far as ranking is concerned, this is not as important as the other meta tags.

There are many different kinds of meta charsets. The two most common ones are UTF-8 and ISO-8859–1.

You can use this code to the head section of your website: <meta charset=” ISO-8859–1″>.

Meta Viewport

Meta viewport is used to determine how a webpage will be seen. This is one of the most important components of SEO meta tags today.

As per the available data, more than 20% of users access content through their mobile phones. Keeping this in mind, Google prefers mobile-friendly websites, and these are ranked high.

Meta viewport helps in ensuring that your website adapts to the space available in the device. Here are some practices that you should follow:

  • Add a meta tag to every single page of your website.
  • If you are confused, then just add a standard tag.
  • Keep in mind that the meta viewport tag is not enough. Conduct a mobile-friendly test to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

You can add a meta viewport tag using this: <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>.

Meta Keywords

The interesting thing about meta keywords is that is it actually bad for SEO meta tags.

Meta keywords were used as a ranking factor prior to 2009. However, Google realized that it is often abused. It is quite easy to stuff meta keywords without impacting the readability of the website. Due to this, Google no longer uses meta keywords for ranking.

This should be enough for you to stop using meta keywords. But it’s not over yet.

In 2011, Bing announced that using meta keywords signals spam to the search engine bots. This is worse than Google because meta keywords will actually have a negative impact on your ranking.

Due to this, not only should you stop adding meta keywords to your web pages, you should go back to previously published web pages and remove meta keywords. This is essential for holistic SEO meta tags.

You can also use the site audit feature of websites such as SEMrush for this.

Conclusion

There you go – that’s everything you need to know about SEO meta tags. This forms a part of technical SEO. Even though it might seem difficult at first, you will master it very quickly. You should try to use the different meta tags appropriately for improving the search engine ranking.

Here’s a quick overview of the different meta tags:

  • Meta Title should be short, clear, and concise. It should catch the attention of users.
  • The meta description should provide an interesting summary such that the user wants to read the rest of the article.
  • Meta robots need to be used when needed. There are different kinds of meta robots, and each serves a different purpose.
  • Meta refresh redirect can be used, but you should avoid it possible. Using 301 redirects is a better alternative.
  • Meta charset ensures that the reader gets exactly what you have written. You should use the appropriate meta charset on your web pages. 
  • Meta viewport directly impacts the ranking of the webpage. You should always add it to your content.
  • Meta keywords have a negative impact on your ranking, and you should never use them.

We hope this is helpful! We have tried to cover everything you need to know. If we missed out on anything, please reach out to us. We would love to answer any questions on SEO meta tags.

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