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What Are SEO Meta Tags? (Complete Guide)

What Are SEO Meta Tags? (Complete Guide)

You need to know that one of the main reasons your website is not ranking higher in search results is because it lacks SEO meta tags, and if it does have, are you optimizing them the right way? So, let’s talk about SEO meta tags: what they are, why they are important, and how to use them more effectively.

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags (HTML tags) are elements within your website’s HTML code that describe the various components of your website to search engines. They give information about a webpage and directly impact how search engines view and display it. Moreover, these tags allow search engines such as Bing and Google algorithms to read your website’s structure descriptions.

Meta Tags

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Several meta tags give search engines information about different parts of your website. Conversely, if you are not an HTML expert but still want to include meta tags on your website, many content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress, have SEO plugins that make adding and changing meta tags easy.

Why Are Meta Tags Important?

As mentioned earlier, meta tags provide more information about your website to search engines and users who find your site in the SERP. And the good thing is you can optimize them to highlight the most crucial components of your content and help your website stand out in search results.

Meta Tags Importance

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Though meta tags are not among the ranking factors for search engines, they are crucial to effective digital marketing and technical SEO. Furthermore, search engines increasingly emphasize a positive user experience, which includes ensuring that your website responds to a user’s query as effectively as possible. Meta tags help ensure that the information searchers require about your website is concisely provided upfront.

Search engine users will read the meta title and meta description as the page title and content description when your webpage appears in search results. And from there, they will decide whether or not to browse your site.

Overall, effective meta tags can enhance conversions, enhance on-page SEO, reduce bounce rates by making the objective of pages clear, and provide a vetting method for any duplicate content on your website due to their popularity in the search engine user experience.

Now that we know what SEO meta tags are and their importance, let’s check out the different types.

9 Game-Changing SEO Meta Tags

1. Title Tags

The title tags are the first HTML element and one of the most important meta tagsthat indicates what your page is about. The title tags also tell search engines about the title you want to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). And since they appear in SERPs and browser tabs, they are essential for SEO and internet users.

Additionally, a title tag can be a simplified version of the headline on the web page. Besides, including a title tag on your pages makes it easier for search engine crawlers to read, categorize, and rank your content.

How to Optimize Your Title tag for SEO

  • Keep title tags less than 160 characters
  • Create a unique title tag for each page
  • Use either title case or sentence case
  • Match search intent
  • Avoid generic and vague titles, such as “Home” for the homepage
  • Avoid clickbait titles
  • Incorporate a target keyword when necessary

2. Meta Description Tag

A meta description tag is an HTML element that summarizes the page’s content for search engine crawlers and internet users. The search engine results page normally displays below the title tag. Here’s an example of a meta description displaying on a search results page:

Meta Description

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Though meta descriptions do not significantly impact a page’s ability to rank, they are nonetheless included as snippets in Google search results to improve searcher accessibility. Therefore, consider meta descriptions as a way to enhance your click-through rates (CTRs) rather than a ranking factor. And so ensure your homepage, internal pages, and blog blogs have creative descriptions that include target keywords.

How to Optimize Your Meta Description for SEO

  • Maintain it to less than 160 characters
  • Avoid generic descriptions
  • Make separate summaries for each page
  • Use sentence case
  • Be precise, descriptive, and concise
  • Avoid using duplicate meta descriptions.
  • Only incorporate your target keyword in places where it makes sense.
  • Match search intent

3. Canonical Tag

The canonical tag shows other versions of the web page, especially if they are almost identical. Alternatively, you might have syndicated content on your website that was republished elsewhere. So, as long as you use a canonical tag, you can do both without worrying about the duplicate content penalty.

Canonical Tag

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Furthermore, by including the canonical tag in the code, your site informs search engines that this URL is the primary page and that other sites should not be indexed. So, instead of the other versions confusing Google and causing your rating to drop in the SERPs, you’re guiding the crawlers on which URL is the “main” one.

The canonical tags emphasize the right URL and prevent others versions from cannibalizing your SEO. Here is an example of how a canonical tag looks in HTML:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/” />

How to Optimize Canonical tag for seo

  • Use the canonical tag on all duplicate pages
  • Use the absolute URL
  • Use the correct canonical tag
  • Check for broken canonical tags
  • Keep the content of the canonical and non-canonical pages the same

4. Alt Text Tag

Image optimization has become an essential element of modern SEO since it provides an additional opportunity to rank in search results, this time with your visual content. Both search engines and internet users should be able to view your images. And since search engines cannot read images, alt text is a way around that issue.

Alt Text Tag

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Alt text tag provides a text alternative to images that will be displayed if the image fails to load or read out by a screen reader; it also informs search engines what the image is supposed to represent.

You can add keywords in your image alt text if it makes sense; keyword-stuffing this tag will only impact the user experience negatively for your visitors with accessibility needs. Also, ensure you include the right alt text to images so that search engines can interpret them easily.

When creating alt text for your site, use the following syntax:

<img src=” http://example.com/xyz.jpg” alt=”xyz” />

How to Optimize Alt Text Tag for seo

  • Use descriptive and relevant alt text
  • Keep the alt text concise
  • Use keywords if necessary
  • Don’t use the same alt text for all images
  • Use alt text for important images

5. Header Tags

Header tags are usually part of your content. They are the headings that you use to organize your site. Besides, header tags can help search engines understand what your content is about, enhancing user experience and ease of reading.

Header Tags

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The sequence of your header tags (h1 to h6) emphasizes the significance of each section. For example, a page title or article header is commonly denoted by an h1 tag, while h2 and below are subheadings to split up your content.

As crucial as header tags are, do just what is necessary – consider quality over quantity. Using five distinct headings on your site will not improve your SEO rankings. Instead, use them strategically to break up your content and establish each section’s main point.

How to Optimize Header Tags

  • Use relevant and descriptive headings
  • Use header tags appropriately
  • Use header tags for headings, not for formatting
  • Include keywords in header tags

6. Keyword Meta Tags

Keyword tags are placed in a webpage’s HTML code that lists the keywords the page is targeting. Search engines once used them to help them understand a webpage’s content and determine its relevance to specific search queries. 

Keyword Meta Tags

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Search algorithms do not use keyword tags to influence search ranking. However, they can be more effective. On the contrary, they are quite handy with WordPress. Besides, keyword tags and categories can help Google decide which page on your web page should rank for a given search.

Moreover, they create a page in WordPress that delivers one more indexed page. This implies that though your blog posts are optimized for long-tail keywords, your tag and category pages have feeds for shorter keywords.

You can use categories in the URL format to add a keyword to the page address. Besides, adding this format gives your content context. Note that Google loves context in search results. Keywords also offer an overall picture of how many pages you have for every keyword. You can use them to help you arrange your editorial schedule.

Here is an example of how a keyword tag looks in HTML

<meta name=” keywords” content=” HTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript”>

How to Optimize Keywords meta tags

  • Use relevant keywords: Choose keywords that accurately reflect the content of your page
  • Use variations of your keywords: Don’t just use the same keyword over and over
  • Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive than shorter, more general keywords
  • Use singular and plural forms of your keywords
  • Don’t stuff your meta tags with keywords

7. Open Graph Meta Tags & Twitter Cards

Open Graph and Twitter Card meta tags are special tags that you can add to the HTML of your website to control how your website’s content is displayed when shared on social media platforms. They are used by Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to understand your website’s content and display it correctly when shared on those platforms.

Open Graph Meta Tags & Twitter Cards

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These tags allow you to specify the title, description, and image used when your content is shared, as well as other details such as the type of content (e.g., article, video, etc.) Conversely, Twitter Card meta tags are used by Twitter to display your website’s content in a rich and visually appealing way when shared on the platform.

By adding these tags to your website’s HTML, you can control how your content is displayed when shared on social media platforms and improve the user experience for those who come across your content.

Here are examples of how Open Graph tags look in HTML:

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />

<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”SITE NAME” />

Here are examples of How Twitter tags look in HTML:

<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@USERNAME”>

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”LINK TO IMAGE”>

How to Optimize Open Graph Meta Tags & Twitter Cards

  • Include the appropriate tags for the type of content you are sharing. For instance, if you share an article, you should include the og:type tag with the article’s value.
  • Use relevant and high-quality images for the og:image and twitter:image tags.
  • Use the og:title and twitter:title tags to specify the title of your content.
  • Use the og:description and twitter:description tags to summarize your content.
  • Use the og:url and twitter:url tags to specify the URL of your website.
  • Use the twitter:card tag to specify the type of Twitter Card you want to use

8. Viewport Meta Tag

The viewport meta tag is the user’s visible area of the page. For example, someone viewing your site on a mobile device will see it through a significantly smaller viewport than someone using a desktop computer. The viewport meta tag usually tells a browser, such as Chrome or Firefox, how to display a webpage on various screen sizes, such as desktop, mobile, or tablet.

Viewport Meta Tag

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To make your web page mobile-friendly, add the following code to the <head> section of your HTML:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>

It’s also an important part of responsive design, which encodes HTML components that automatically change size and shape to adapt to the user’s browser and device. However, only use viewport if your site pages are responsive since it will worsen the user experience.

The right page is displayed instantly, thanks to responsive design. And since responsive design provides the best user experience, it’s Google’s recommended approach for displaying content to mobile users.

How to Optimize Viewport meta tag for SEO

If your site visitors try to access it on a mobile phone and you only have the desktop version, they will most likely leave. It’s hard to browse and read, so you can’t blame them. And so this will increase your website’s bounce rate and constitute a negative signal to Google, potentially affecting your search rankings.

Google also claims responsive design pages are easier to understand than non-responsive design sites. As a result, those pages may rank higher than pages that do not use the viewport meta tag or responsive design.

9. Robots Meta Tag

Robots meta tags usually give search engines instructions on whether you want them to crawl or index parts of your site. Since all of the pages and links you create on your site are automatically indexed by search bots and web crawlers, you can use the robots meta tag to manage how Googlebot handles that indexing.

Robots Meta Tag

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The tag has five common parameters for the search engine crawlers, which include;

i). INDEX

This parameter instructs web crawlers to index the page. And when a page is indexed, people who use search engines can find it. It is the default if you don’t change anything in the code.

ii). Noindex

This parameter tells search engines not to index the page, meaning it will not appear on the search results page.

iii). Follow

This parameter enables search engines to follow links on your web pages, leading the reader to other pages. It is the default if no parameters are added to the source code.

iv). Nofollow

This parameter tells search engine bots not to crawl the page’s links and indicates that you do not endorse the links. In addition, some websites use it as a safety net to let search engines know they are not using spammy link techniques.

v). Noarchive

This parameter tells search engines not to cache or display the page.

How to Optimize robot meta tag for SEO

Robot’s meta tags limit how Google crawls your site’s pages. For instance, if you don’t want Google to index duplicate content, you may use the no-index parameter, which is not good for SEO.

Conversely, if you don’t want Google to crawl links on that page, use the nofollow meta robots tag. For instance, if the website has a comments section and you don’t want people spamming it with links to their websites to acquire backlinks for themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions on SEO Meta Tags

1. How Do SEO Meta Tags Enhance Website Accessibility?

Meta tags can offer information that assistive technology can read. And for persons with vision impairments, image alt text can give image descriptions for them.

2. Do Meta Tags Enhance SEO?

Categories and tags are not essential for SEO on their own. However, they can impact other factors that influence your search engine rankings, such as the overall user experience of your website (UX).

3. Why Are Meta Tags Used?

A meta tag is a snippet of code that you use to inform search engines and visitors to your website about your page and its content.

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