You may have heard Meta Tags mentioned before but did you know that the Meta Tags on your website can make or break your online marketing strategy?
Meta Tags are one of those little mentioned basic elements of your website that not only tell the search engines the main components of a specific web page but also are the foundation of high quality SEO.
Meta Tags have a big part in search engine history and have been around since I began coding websites back in 1995. They carried a great deal of weight in the search engines and then people got greedy; started to abuse these fields to get top ranking on the search engines.
Since then, the major search engines have started to find ways to weigh the content of your website to help in search engine rankings. Although Google (and other search engines) don’t use Meta Tags much for search engine rankings, they are crucial for search and social media marketing. In fact, they are the factors that cause your target audience to engage with you.
What are Meta Tags?
The key Meta Tags you should be interested in are the Title, Description and Keywords tags. Each has its own field, format and number of characters allowed to convey a set amount of information to both the search engines as well as your target market.
1. Title – The “Title” tag is the most important Meta Tag available. This tag conveys the main information of your web page in under 70 characters. This is the tag that you see at the top of your web browser and it is also the link that is displayed at the top of your search engine listing. This tag needs to be concise but it also must engage the target market to click it on the search engine results page. Without enticement (wanting to know more), your listing will be overlooked – regardless of how many keywords are used within this field. Also, this is one of the three top places search engine spiders look for high quality keywords for indexing.
2. Description – The “Description” tag is highly regarded as well. Like the “Title” tag, there are a set number of characters, 160, allowed for this field. This Meta Tag is not only used in keyword density for search engine results indexing but it is also the paragraph of text visible under the “Title” tag on the search engine results page. The “Title” tag is what makes your target want to know more while your “Description” tag adds further support information to secure the engagement (click-through to your website).
3. Keywords – This Meta Tag is always left last because there is a great deal of controversy as to it’s importance in search engine rankings and SEO. In the past, the “Keywords” tag was used to convey those targeted keywords to the search engine spiders to further help indexing. However, like other tags, black hat SEO gurus, using this to inflate search engine indexing, abused this one. Today, Google does not use this field to support PageRank. However, this tag is still widely used by other news indexers and social media networks to decipher keyword tags to be used within their own network. Therefore, this tag may help social media networks to better index shared links and data across each network.
Why are Meta Tags Important?
Every SEO or Internet marketing consultant will have their own theory as to what is and is not used in search engine rankings. Of course, the search engines are very tight-lipped about their algorithms so some speculation must be made. However, when it comes to the “Title” and “Description” Meta Tags, it is a fact that they are used to display on the search engine results page (SERP) and therefore are used to convey information and entice prospective visitors to click that link in order to visit your website.
My tip: When is doubt, optimize what you have access to and follow Google’s lead. If it is a best practice with the search engines, and it doesn’t cost any extra money, optimize and implement.