Meta tags can be a valuable tool in your SEO arsenal.
They are easy to use and can help you increase search engine rankings.
This post will discuss meta tags and how you can use them on your website.
We will also give tips on boosting your SEO with meta tags.
- What Are Meta Tags?
- Why Are Meta Tags Important for SEO?
- Title Tags
- Meta Description Tags
- Robot Meta Tags
- Viewport Meta Tags
- How to Write Meta Tags
- Full List of Meta Tags
What Are Meta Tags?
You can use both page-level meta-tags and inline directives to control how your content appears in search results because Google supports them.
Meta tags may include the title, description, and other information about your website.
You can find them in the head section of an HTML document.
Here’s an example of what they look like in this post:
The most popular meta tags are:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Robot meta tags
- Viewport meta tags
We will discuss them in detail later in this guide.
Why Are Meta Tags Important for SEO?
Meta tags are essential for SEO because they help search engines understand your website.
They also help you rank better in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Title tags and meta descriptions are two of the most important meta tags for SEO.
Title tags tell search engines what your website is about. Meta descriptions give a brief summary of your website.
Both title tags and meta descriptions are used to display your content in SERPs:
If you have a well-optimized title tag and meta description, you are more likely to increase your organic CTR and rank higher in SERPs.
Meta tags are also important because they are one of the most important channels to communicate with search engine robots.
Search engine robots use meta tags to understand what your website is about and how it should be indexed.
You should really pay attention to your robot meta tags. If you badly set up a meta tag, either by mistake or lack of information, you can destroy the visibility of your website.
For example, by giving the “content=”noindex” command:
This will tell search engine robots not to index your web page. As a result, your web page will not appear in SERPs.
Title tags are the most important meta tag for SEO.
A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
It is used in SERPs to display the title of your web page.
It is also used by social media platforms to show the title of your page when it is shared on social media.
Your title tag should be:
- Unique: this means that it should not be the same as the title tag of another web page
- Accurate: it should accurately describe your content
- Relevant: it should include the keywords you are targeting
- Descriptive: the description of your page should be brief but accurate
Also, remember to follow these recommendations:
- Keep your title tag under 60 characters
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Use title case
- Focus on search intent
- Avoid clickbait titles
- Write something catchy
- Experiment with brackets
Meta Description Tags
Meta descriptions are the second most important among the SEO meta tags.
A meta description is an HTML element that specifies a brief summary of a web page.
The meta description can be used by Google to display a brief summary of your web page in SERPs.
In other words, Google does not always take the meta description provided by the webmaster to create the snippet in the result pages.
Sometimes, it can be produced automatically by the content of the page if they feel that those generated by webmasters are of poor quality or unrelated to the user’s query.
So, remember these best practices when creating meta descriptions for your content:
- Keep them under 155 characters
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Use bucket brigade words
- Make them interesting and informative
- Write sentence case
- Focus on search intent
- Create unique descriptions
Here’s what my off-page SEO post looks like on Google:
Robot Meta Tags
A robot meta tag is an HTML element that specifies whether search engine robots should index a web page and follow its links.
All the pages and links you create are followed by default by search bots and crawlers.
However, if you would like to change something, here are the most common robot meta tags you can use:
- Index: this tells search engines to index a web page
- Follow: this allows web crawlers to follow the links on a web page
- Noarchive: this gives the command to search engine bots not to save a cached copy of your web page
- Noindex: this informs search bots not to index a web page
- Nofollow: this instructs search engines not to follow the links on a web page
For example, a command to tell web crawlers not to index a web page looks like this:
So, robot meta tags instruct how Google crawls pages on your website.
For example, you may want to use them to avoid duplicate content issues.
Some other times you need to use robot meta tags include:
- When you are developing a website and don’t want search engines to index it until it’s ready
- If you have pages with sensitive information that you don’t want to be indexed
- When you have pages that are not valuable for SEO purposes and thus there is no need to index them
Robot Meta Tags VS Robots.txt
You may be wondering what is the difference between robot meta tags and robots.txt.
Robot meta tags are HTML elements that you can use to specify whether search engine robots should index a web page and follow its links.
Robots.txt is a text file that you can create to instruct search engine bots what pages on your website they should index and which ones they should not.
In other words, robot meta tags are used to control how search engine bots crawl individual web pages, while robots.txt is used to control how search engine bots crawl your entire website.
Here is an example of a robots.txt file:
And here you can find its meaning:
Viewport Meta Tag
The viewport meta tag is an HTML element that specifies the width and initial scale of a web page.
It is used to control how your web page is displayed on mobile devices.
If you don’t specify a viewport, mobile devices will assume that your web page is designed for desktop computers and will not display it correctly.
Here is an example of a viewport meta tag:
As you can see, the viewport meta tag has two attributes: width and initial-scale.
The width attribute specifies the width of the viewport in pixels. The initial-scale attribute specifies the initial zoom level of the page.
You can also use other values such as minimum-scale, maximum-scale, and user-scalable.
It is important to note that the viewport meta tag is not supported by all web browsers.
However, it is supported by all major web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
If you want to learn more about the viewport meta tag, I recommend reading the W3Schools guide.
How to Write Meta Tags
If you want to manually add the HTML code of SEO meta tags, you should place it in the “head” section of your website:
Or, if you are using WordPress, you can simply download an SEO plugin like Yoast.
Once you install and activate the plugin, it will add an SEO section below each post, where you can write SEO meta tags.
To add the title tag, you need to scroll down to the SEO section and click on the “SEO title” field:
If you don’t, the plugin will automatically use the title of your blog post.
To add the meta description, you need to scroll down to the SEO section.
Then, you can add your meta description in the “Meta description” field:
Finally, if you scroll down into the “Advanced” section, you can edit robot meta tags:
Regarding the viewport meta tag, if you don’t want to mess up with your site code, you just need to install a responsive theme, as I did for my site.
I use a Genesis framework.
Full List of Meta Tags
Including a meta tag on your website is not a guarantee that Google will index or rank your web page.
However, it is still a good idea to include all the meta tags that are relevant to your website.
Here is a full list of SEO meta tags:
- Title tag: to name a web page for search engines
- Meta description: to describe your content for search engines
- Robot meta tags: to index or not your website
- Viewport meta tag: to instruct how to render a page on mobile
- Nofollow, sponsored and user-generated content meta tags: to control links
- Twitter cards meta tags and Open Graph meta tags: to share your content on social media
- Language meta-tags: to give an indication of the content language of the page
- Notranslate meta tag: to order Google to not automatically generate a translation
- Nositelinkssearchbox meta-tag: to not display the sitelinks search box
- Meta charset tag: to tell the character encoding of a website
- Meta refresh tag: to transfer the user to a new URL after a certain period of time, usually from a redirection (you should use a 301 redirect, instead)
Other meta tags, not essential to your SEO strategy:
- Meta keywords: used to tell search engines what your content was about (in 2009, Google declared to no longer use them)
- Author meta tag: to inform about the author of a page
- Copyright meta tag: to instruct about the owner of the rights of a page
- Meta name rating tag: to specify adult content
- Date meta tags: to tell the date of the content
Improve Your Meta Tags Today
Now that you know what SEO meta tags are and how to use them, it’s time to start improving your own meta tags.
The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results!
Now, it’s over to you.
Which of the SEO meta tags are you going to start using today?
Let me know in the comments below.