Meta tags are special HTML tags that contain information or Meta data that is readable by browsers, search engines and other programs. Meta data is commonly referred to as “data about data”. It is documented information about a specific set of data and is essentially used to describe the contents of a webpage. Meta tags only contain page information, they do not change the appearance of the page. These tags are placed in the heading section of HTML code and are only visible to users when viewing the source page. The following is how Meta tags appear in a website’s source code.
<TITLE>How to Create a Meta Tag</TITLE>
<META name =“description” content=”Everything you want to know about Meta Tags”>
<META name =”keywords” content=”Keyword 1, Keyword 2, Keyword 3, Keyword 4”>
Are Meta Tags helpful? Meta tags are usually used for Search Engine Optimization and are thought to help web crawlers index your pages more accurately. Although at one time Meta tags held tremendous value for website ranking they no longer carry the same importance. Over time, less and less weight has been assigned to Meta tags due to their manipulation and user abuse. Eventually websites began to perform keyword stuffing (excessive use of keywords) and listed irrelevant information in their Meta tags to try to attract and mislead traffic to their pages. As users caught on to the black hat SEO techniques for Meta tags the search engines started to divert their attention and place more emphasis on actual content. Shifting their focus allowed the search engines to evaluate web pages appropriately based on visible content rather than depending on a Meta tag to deliver accurate information.
Meta tags no longer play the same critical role in SEO as they once did, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all worthless. It is believed that certain Meta tags can still generate greater website visibility. For example, the Meta description tag can help increase click through rates and provides website owners with a great opportunity to pre-advertise their content.
When it comes to Meta tags the majority of SEO industry leaders feel that less is better. Using too many Meta tags may not always directly hurt your ranking but it will take up important coding space. By including useless Meta tags you are creating an unnecessary buffer zone between crawlers and your content. This interruption creates more work for the robots and can slow down the indexing and ranking process. In addition to taking up space some Meta tags can even help your competition. For example when you utilize the Meta Keywords tag you provide your competition access to your competitive keywords and gain no benefit from Google.
If you do happen to use Meta tags try to limit the amount that you use, make sure they are relevant to your website, and prioritize them with less importance than your other SEO efforts. The following list includes some Meta tags that are recommended for use, a few that are recommended depending on the specifications of a website, and some Meta tags that should be avoided.
- Title Tag:
The title tag should be used to provide a relevant and unique page title on each web page.
- Meta Content Type:
This tag should always be used. It presents a character set and impacts how your page will be rendered in the browser
- Meta Description:
Description tags do not impact search rankings but they create an opportunity to summarize the website’s content and influence a user’s decision to visit the website.
- Meta Robots:
This tag is only necessary if you want to change the standard index and follow attributes. If you do not add this tag the page will read as index, follow.
- Meta Language:
The Meta Language tag should be used if your site is aimed internationally and you need to specify a main language.
- Meta Geo:
- Meta Keywords:
Meta keyword tags no longer help increase website ranking and can inadvertently provide your targeted keywords to your competition. Most SEO professionals feel that this Meta tag is a complete waste of time. In a blog post Google confirmed that they place no value on Meta Keywords in regards to rank.
- Meta Site Verification:
Optional if you don’t have access to your server to verify your site. With Google you can also verify by DNS, external file, or by linking your Google Analytics account and with Bing you can still only verify by XML file or Meta tag.
Non-Recommended Meta Tags:
- Meta Content Script Type
- Meta Content Style Type
- Meta Distribution
- Meta Expires
- Meta Generator
- Meta MS Smart Tags
- Meta Pragma No-Cache
- Meta Publisher
- Meta Rating
- Meta Refresh
- Meta Reply-To
- Meta Resource Type
- Meta Revisit After
- Meta Set Cookie
- Meta Subject
- Mete Expiration/Date
These are just some of the common Meta Tags, for a full list with descriptions visit MetaTags.org.
In conclusion try to stick to the essential Meta tags. Avoid adding any unnecessary Meta tags because they will take up important code space. The importance of most Meta tags may have been cycled out or diluted over the years but there is still a handful that serve important purposes so use them accordingly.
For more information visit: Meta Tags That Google Understands
Thanks for reading!