Meta tag is the hidden hero who never shows itself into page or website but works in the background as the identity of the page. It’s the main part & parcel of your SEO. These invisible snippets texts are only visible in the HTML code. Meta tag describes your page to Search Engine & crawlers read them to get the idea about your page & content. But what is Meta tag? Let’s know more about it.
It’s a trailing article of complete SEO training in 30 days, so I would suggest reading that first before reading this one.
What is Meta Tag:
Meta tags can be found in the HTML documents & they are only visible to search engine. Different meta tags work differently. Few of the meta tags need extensive attention & care because your ranking depends on them.
We all know about tags due to its use on our blogs. Meta tags are more or less same to tag, just need little bit research & careful approach. The only distinctive difference is we can’t see the meta tag because they only exist at the top of the HTML code. But they are visible to search crawlers & search crawlers only count meta tag to learn about your site & content. The actual meaning of Meta is Metadata which is a kind of data in HTML that describes other data. Funny isn’t it?
Here I am going to discuss 4 main types of meta tags.
- Title tag.
- Meta description attribute.
- The Meta keyword attribute.
- Meta robots attribute.
What is title tag:
The title tag is the main tag which has a real-time impact on SEO & page ranking. It’s the only tag that is visible to the audience at the top of the browser URL. It’s the only piece area where you can tell your visitors about your page’s content as well you can use keywords here. These keywords are not to get rank at SERP but to let the visitor know that your site has the information which they are searching for. They can get at a glance idea about your page or site from the title tag.
There are some common good practices to make the title tag more effective. They are,
- Use the main keyword phrase
- Don’t use over 60 characters here
- Use a long tail phrase to target the ideal audience for your site. Only a keyword will be lost in the wide range of search results.
Meta description attribute:
Meta description attribute or simply meta description is the most important piece of text of your website or page. Because both search engine & visitor can see and judge it to determine your site or page. It informs crawlers in a small summary of your page. It shows more content to search engine & visitor.
We all know that keywords in meta description do not affect ranking but a potential visitor see this before clicking the link. If they found your meta description relevant to their search & keywords they are looking for, then they enter into your site. So it has an entire meaning rather than just keywords.
Things you should consider while writing meta description attribute/meta description:
- Use customized description tag otherwise search engine will show the first sentence from the content.
- Use 150 characters. Though the limit is 160 character sometime, Google just shows less than 160 characters. Excess characters will not show here.
- Never use duplicate meta description. The audience will discourage open them. Even Google keeps a close eye there.
- Google will cut any quotes used in the meta description. Use single if it’s really necessary.
Meta keyword attribute:
Meta keywords are known as an example of a meta tag which has lost its appeal for SEO. With latest Google algorithm update, its importance has been removed.
Meta robots attribute:
It’s just the age-old robot.txt. Meta robot attribute is very critical for your site. It actually invites Google crawler to crawl & index your site. Also, there is a catch. You can customize the robot.txt for index/non-index purpose. If you want Google to crawl a specific page, then you can invite it. If you want crawlers to avoid a specific page & don’t show it in the search, then you can non-index the specific page’s URL.
You may ask yourself, why you need to hide a page from the crawler. Yes, people do hide pages from crawlers due to its duplicate contents. A website is a big huge page with tons of contents. There is a chance that you have used same contents twice in two different locations. Now Google will crawl both of them & mark one as duplicate content. The way to stop happening is to use robot.txt & hide this page.
Things you should consider while using meta robots attribute,
- Use “index, Follow if you want crawlers to crawl your website from the main page & keep crawling the rest from the main page.
- You can use “Index, NoFollow,” to stop crawler after crawling the main page. It’s a common technique for new websites.
- If you want to stop the crawler to crawl the main page and just crawl other pages than use “NoIndex, Follow.”
- If you want to stop bot to crawl any area of your website, then use “Noindex, NoFollow.”
Meta tag’s impact on SEO & what you should follow:
I have already described the importance of meta tag for both SEO & ranking. So no more theory crafting. Meta tags are important for both search engine & audiences. Some of them make a direct influence on your audiences. So you should not neglect them. But what happens when you have a large website with lots of contents. What should you do to solve things easily?
To optimize all your meta tags, you should use free tool to optimize them & check possible errors or issues.
It’s a time-consuming process because there is so much data on a single website. This tool can check your meta tags performance and also informs you which metadata should be optimized for better performance.
Metadata is important for your website. So having great contents & other SEO optimizations, you are still at the risk of having a bad rank if you ignore metadata. If you want to learn further about this hidden world, check the video of Matt Cutts on Meta tags that Google understands.