Throughout the history of the search engine, meta tags have been a fundamental component of SEO. While they are basic compared to other techniques, meta tags are a must-know for every SEO practitioner.
You might be asking yourself: Are meta tags a factor in Google page rank? Is it important? What effect does it have on your site’s SEO? How long is it going to take me to implement?
They were valued as a factor in rankings before – until people started abusing their use in getting on top of the SERPs. After that, Google opted for meta tags out of the ranking factors. But that doesn’t mean they’re not important anymore. Meta tags still play an important role in your site’s SEO.
What are Meta Tags
Meta tags provide information about the webpage in the HTML of the document. This information is called “metadata” and while it is not displayed on the page itself, it can be read by search engines and web crawlers. The Meta tags appear only in the page’s code and anyone can check them via source code.
Search engines such as Google use metadata from meta tags to understand additional information about the webpage. They can use this information for ranking purposes, to display snippets in search results, and sometimes they can ignore meta tags.
Do Meta Tags matter for SEO in 2020
Yes, they do matter. but not all of them.
Search engines increasingly value good user experience, and that includes making sure that your site satisfies a user’s query as best as it possibly can. Meta tags help with this by making sure that the information searchers need to know about your site is displayed upfront in a concise and useful fashion.
Some types of meta tags relate to page structure and will ensure that your site is easy to navigate, while others tell search engines which parts of your page are important and which to overlook.
There are numerous different types of meta tags that fulfill different roles, and not all of them are relevant to SEO. Here are a few meta tags to help optimize your website.
The Title Tag is one of the first things that users notice in the SERPs. It’s the title of your page that offers a preview of what your content is about, which is very important to SEO. You should always have a unique Title Tag on every page that describes the page.
Always add your Title Tag in the <head> section of your site.
<head> <title>Page Title Sample</title> </head>
The optimal length for the Title Tag, as Google typically shows, is 55-64 characters (keep it under 60). Title Tags are important for SEO and visitors. It shows up in the SERP and in Browser Tabs.
A Meta Description is an HTML element that summarizes your web page. Search engines typically show the Meta description in search results below your Title Tag. This tag doesn’t influence ranking, but it’s very important regardless. It’s the ad copy that will determine if users click on your result.
<head> <meta name=”description” content=”Meta Description Sample up to 160 characters.”> </head>
The new average length of the description snippet field on the desktop is at around 160 characters. Mobile characters for the search results snippets are now down to an average of 130 characters.
The Canonical tag is an HTML link tag with “rel=canonical” attribute that is used if you have a single page URL that has the same content with other multiple page URLs.
<link rel="canonical" href="https://avamia.com/" />
By implementing the Canonical tag in the code, we are telling search engines that this URL is the main page and avoid indexing other duplicate page URLs. This places the emphasis on the right URL and prevents others from cannibalizing your SEO.
ALT Tag (Alternative Text)
The Alt tag is important for any images, as search engines cannot read them, so you need to add proper Alt text to the images so the search engine can consider them.
<img src=”https://avamia.com/xyz.jpg” alt=”xyz” />
You can include keywords in your image alt text, but only if it makes sense to do so – don’t keyword-stuff this tag, as it will only end up harming the user experience for your visitors with accessibility needs.
Robots Meta Tag
The robots meta tag informs search engines which pages on your site should be indexed. This meta tag serves a similar purpose to robots.txt; it is generally used to prevent a search engine from indexing individual pages, while robots.txt will prevent it from indexing a whole site or section of a site.
The Robots Meta tag has four main values for search engine crawlers:
- FOLLOW – The search engine crawler will follow all the links on that web page.
- INDEX – The search engine crawler will index the whole web page.
- NOFOLLOW – The search engine crawler will NOT follow the page and any links in that web page.
- NOINDEX – The search engine crawler will NOT index that web page.
Do not INDEX and do not FOLLOW this web page:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
INDEX and FOLLOW this web page:
<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow”>
The robots Meta tag should be placed in the <head> section of your web page. If you don’t add a robots meta tag, the default for crawlers is to index and follow your page.
A Header tag is used for headings creations, i.e. by using these, we can apply font changes. The heading elements are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 with H1 being the highest (or most important) level and H6 the least.
Header tags are part of your content; in short, they are the headings that you use to structure your page.
<h1>All About Meta Tags for SEO</h1> <p>Paragraph of content</p> <p>Another paragraph of content</p> <h2>What are Meta Tags<h2> <p>Paragraph of content</p> <h2>Do Meta Tags matter for SEO in 2020<h2> <h3>Title tag</h3>
It’s usually suggested to use only one h1, while you can use more than one h2 or h3. Use header tags to help search engines understand your main topic on each page. Use them wisely and find a balance between the reading experience and the SEO value.
How to check Meta Tags on a site
If you want to check the Meta tags for any page, just right-click anywhere on the page and select “View Page Source”. You can also use tools like SEMRush and Screaming Frog to check the Meta Tags on any site.
How to optimize your Meta Tags
Here’s a quick checklist to start with:
- Check whether all your pages and your content have Title Tags and Meta Descriptions.
- Pay attention to your Headings and the way you structure your content.
- Mark up your images with ALT Tags.
- Use Robot Meta Tags to guide search engines on how they should access your content.
- Search for duplicate pages, and use Canonical Tags to avoid cannibalizing your own content with duplicate or similar content.
- Create a checklist of the steps to do when creating content and add Meta Tags to your routine.
So these are the few HTML tags that you should consider. Now you can easily use the relevant HTML Meta Tags intelligently.
There is a certain weight in your meta tags that the search engines see, that being the reason, wouldn’t you want to do everything in order to bring your page a little bit higher in the SERPs? That’s exactly the reason why Meta Tags are important.