Last Updated on June 17, 2021 by Biswajit Nath
While doing SEO works for your blog, you might come across the term Meta Tags.
Link building is often believed as the single most important task of Search Engine Optimization. And being busy accumulating links, we often forget about the importance of on-page SEO strategies such as Meta Tag optimization.
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are some special HTML Tags that provide information about a web page such as who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page’s content.
Unlike other HTML tags, Meta Tags do not affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they carry information that is useful for search engines to index your site properly.
Moreover, they also provide information to the visitors of your site such as the summary of a page, who and when the page has been created, etc.
How Search Engines Read Meta Tags?
Search engines are the most effective way of finding specific information on the vast expanse of the World Wide Web. Without sophisticated and AI-integrated search engines, it would be near impossible to locate anything on the web without knowing a specific URL.
But do you know how search engines work? And do you know what makes some search engines more effective than others?
When people use the term search engine concerning the Web, they usually refer to the actual search forms that search through databases of HTML documents, initially gathered by a robot. And here comes the importance of Meta Tags.
Crawler-based search engines such as Google use automated software acgents (called crawlers) that visit a Web site, follow the instructions provided by the meta tags of each page on your site, and gather information about your site. The crawler returns all that information back to a central depository, where the data is indexed. The crawler will periodically return to the sites to check for any information that has changed. The frequency with which this happens is determined by the administrators of the search engine.
6 Most Important Meta Tags for SEO
Among the several kinds of meta tags used in an HTML document, I am listing here the most important and essential meta tags that are vital for on-page search engine optimization.
1. Title Tag
Title Tag is the most important meta tag for a web page. The title tag appears in the head block of the page, it isn’t actually a meta tag. But it essential for a webpage to increase its SEO. Title Tag looks like below,
<title>Title of your website</title>
Title Tag has a major impact on ranking and traffic. A well-written title tag may increase the number of clicks and traffic.
2. Meta Description Tag
Description Meta Tag is very important from an SEO point of view. It tells us what the website is about. For the search engine to understand what your page is about, you need to write a good description.
Writing a good description not only helps keep Google from indexing it, but also helps you get more visitors. A well-written description not only tells users what is on your page but also attracts them to visit your site.
Descriptions help in the case of Google Ranking. Targeted keywords can be used in the description tag to help users and crawlers understand the subject matter.
<meta name=”description” content=”A well written description of your page”/>
Remember that, Description meta tag should be no longer than 155 characters (including spaces).
3. Meta Robots
With the help of the meta robots attribute you can define certain instructions for search engines, such as whether to index a webpage or not. This defines how your website looks in the eyes of the search engine.
A ‘Noindex’ attribute will tell the search engine not to index that page. Similarly ‘Index’ attribute will do the opposite.
These meta tags do not impact the ranking directly but to a certain level, it is useful. As all know that search engines such as Google do not like pages with ‘Thin Content’. The ‘Noindex’ attribute helps in hiding those from search engines.
<meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow”/>
4. rel=”Nofollow” Attribute
Everyone knows the importance of links whether it is external or internal. A followed link is treated by search engines as ‘Vote of Confidence’. If you have allowed search engines to follow a link, you have allowed treating the sources you refer to as the context, to better understand the content on your page.
Links are the most important factors that have a direct impact on ranking as they pass link equity. More link juice from reliable sources will automatically boost your domain authority and hence ranking. Therefore many website owners try to manipulate it by participating in link exchange programs. This is really dangerous, as this may lead to a penalty by Google.
By default, all hyperlinks are followed. But, you can instruct search engines not to follow links using the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
It is advised to use the rel=”Nofollow” attribute for the links to untrusted content, user-generated links like a link in a comment, sponsored links, etc.
<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.example.com/">Cheap Domain Names</a>
5. Image Alt Attribute
The Image Alt Attribute is inserted into an image tag to describe the image in a few words.
Image Alt Attribute is important from an SEO point of view. If an image failed to load, the Alt Text is displayed to visitors instead.
You must have seen on the Google search page, there is a separate image tab that shows the images related to your search term. Practically Google can not see an image, it can only read. Here comes the importance of Alt Text. Google shows the results according to the alt tags defined by you.
<img src="wedceremony.jpeg" alt="Wedding Ceremony Photo">
Read more about the important SEO practices for Images.
6. Conical Link Meta Tag
You may have similar pages on your site that carry almost same information, and you want to display a particular one in the search engine. Here comes the importance of rel=”canonical” tag.
If you do not specify one as a canonical one, search engine will automatically assume any one as a conical link. That might differ from your choice. To avoid the confusion you must specify your desired page using rel=”canonical”
Assume that you have two pages with URLs ‘https://www.yoursite.com/pet-food/‘ and ‘https://www.yoursite.com/pets-food-1/‘ respectively and both carry the same information but the prior one is more up to date. You can use rel=”canonical” attribute to tell search engine to index as follows,
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.yoursite.com/pet-food" />
Meta tags are the basic parts of HTML. Using Meta Tags properly on your site is as important as doing off-page SEO like link building or on-page SEO such as Keyword Research. Meta tags look so small but these small changes may lead to a properly organized site, and thus increases your chances of getting ahead of your competitors.
In the early days, meta tags are the only way a search engine had to understand the structure of a website. But, as time flies, search engines also evolved to a new level leaving behind the use of meta tags.
But, some meta tags like Title Tag, Description Tags are still relevant and important too.