Meta tags. You’ve heard of them, but you’re not exactly sure what they are. And at this point, you’re kind of afraid to ask. Never fear – GreenStar Marketing is here! Below you’ll find a simple definition, detailed explanations, and a few professional recommendations.
Starting Small: What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags have been a core part of communication with Google since the dawn of SEO, give or take a few years. Essentially, meta tags are pieces of texts that communicate your web page’s content to Google (and other search engines) so they can display the right information to users.
Typically, meta tags are only found within the page’s source code – like in the image below.
How Do Meta Tags Help SEO Rankings?
It depends on what type of meta tags you’re implementing because there are quite a few of them. But, to keep things simple, we’ve outlined the top three meta tags most sites – and search engines – care about and how they benefit your site’s ranking.
Title Tag (<title>)
Arguably, title tags are the most important meta tag you’ll use because they act as the titles of your pages. Users see your title tag in the search engine results page (SERP), in the tab of their browser window, and when the page is shared on social media.
Having a clear, enticing title tag – featuring one target keyword – will help you rank for that keyword, garner more clicks from engaged researchers, and communicate clearly with casual scrollers.
PRO TIP: Keep your title tags between 50 and 60 characters so it won’t get cut off.
Meta Description Tag (<meta name= “description”>)
This meta tag is a longer description of your page content and usually falls beneath the title meta tag on search engine results pages – as you can see below. It gives the search engine, and the user, a little more information about your web page than the title tag. It’s another way to draw users to click through to your content.
Please note that your meta description tag won’t always show up on the results page. Sometimes Google decides to feature a particular excerpt from your page instead – like the top result in the previous image.
And while placing keywords in meta descriptions isn’t required, it’ll certainly help encourage users to choose your page over the rest of the options. Think of it as a brief, organic way to advertise.
Meta Robots Tag (<meta name= “robots”>)
If meta titles and meta descriptions are telling search engines what your web pages are about, the meta robots tag tells search engine crawlers what to do with them. While there are many ways to instruct crawlers on how to interact with your site, the two we want you to worry about right now are:
- <meta name=”robots” content=”index/noindex”> This tag lets the crawlers know if it should or shouldn’t show your page in search results. Typically, you want your page to be seen in search results, so you’d choose “index.” But if your pages are for clients only, or are protected by a password, you’ll want to choose “no index.”
- <meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow/follow”> This tag tells the crawlers if they should trust and “follow” page links or not. Usually, you’d want crawlers to follow your links – especially if you do a lot of linking back to your own pages. But if you’d like crawlers to only log (or “index”) a specific blog page and not follow links to other websites from that page, you’d want a “no follow” tag.
For a full list of Google’s current meta robots tags, and how to use them, click here.
BONUS TAG: Meta Viewport Tag (<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>)
The Meta Viewport Tag tells the search engine how to display the website on different devices like mobile phones, tablets, and desktops. Many site builders have this feature pre-programmed, so you won’t have to worry about it initially.
And while the Meta Viewport Tag doesn’t boost your SEO rankings, it does help your website visitors have a more consistent experience across devices. And since over 60% of internet traffic comes through mobile phones, you shouldn’t skimp on mobile optimization.
And there you have it – a brief meta tag summary! While meta tags may seem like a daunting prospect, they’re actually not that difficult to implement thanks to most modern website builds. However, having a proper meta tagging strategy is essential to success.
Make the Most of Meta Tags with GreenStar Marketing
Here at GreenStar, we know how crucial proper meta-tagging is to a healthy SEO strategy. This is why it’s built into so much of what we do, from website builds to blog generation. Want to see the results for yourself? Connect with us on our website or any of our social media channels and we’d be more than happy to get you started!