Meta Tags: Importance in SEO
Is Meta Tag Optimization Still Necessary?
In the early days of search engine optimization, the only thing that SEOs did was meta tag SEO optimization. At the time, most web developers didn’t even know a meta tag from a price tag, but the ones who did were SEO experts. Over time, search engine algorithms have evolved and become more and more complex, which has devalued the importance of meta tags.
Do Search Engines Even Care About Meta Tags Anymore?
It has been a long time since optimization of meta tags alone could get a web page ranked on a search engine. Today, most web developers, and even content management systems, include meta tags and unique page titles, but this is no longer enough to get ranked for even non-competitive keywords. However, meta tag optimization remains a core SEO best practice, and all of your pages should include unique page titles, meta keywords, and meta description tags. These tags are still components of a few search engines’ ranking algorithms, and even more importantly, they represent your "ad copy" in the search engine ranking results pages (SERPs).
Structured Data - A New Search Differentiator
The top three search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) don't agree on a lot or share a lot in common, but they have come up with a few web standards, including, structured data (see schema.org), which is basically an HTML or JSON-LD markup standard used by these search engines to help them better understand your website's content. The nearly 300 schema types are similar to a meta tag in that it is not overly complicated to implement, but much like meta tags in the early days of SEO, most web developers are still not implementing structured data. Our SEO services include the implementation of structured data of select pages reaps a lot of benefits for websites, including:
- Search engines can easily understand your content the way you intend it to be understood
- Search engines such as Google and social media sites show "rich snippets" or "knowledge graphs" in search results
- Improved organic search click-through rates – more search engine traffic
- Structured data is highly used and influences local search and shopping results
- Makes it easier to share your content correctly
- Useful for specific types of content like products, blog posts, events, audio, and video
- May influence search engine positions in the future
It is important to note that websites should not go overboard with structured data and should use it only where it makes sense and will improve the user experience. Important pages that don't use structured data are not distinguishable by the type of content available on the page and appear to search engines just as a group of words, phrases, or figures. When structured data is implemented correctly on these critical pages (like product pages and pages that offer media), the information becomes organized in a way that makes it easier for search engines to parse and then show that information back to the searcher.
There are several types of meta tags, but many are not worth the time and provide little to no SEO benefits. The primary tags that should always be optimized include:
Meta Title Tag
If you were teaching a novice about SEO, one of the first items on your agenda would be to give each of your pages a unique title, which is done in the meta title tag. The title is what appears at the top of your browser and is often (though not always) what is displayed as the link in a search engine ranking. The title tag an essential element to optimize to improve click-through rates to your website.
Where the title tag grabs the attention of the user and tells them that your page has the information they are looking for, the meta description provides a "call to action" to click your link. A well-written Meta description tag will increase your click-through rates when it appears on the search engine results pages.
The meta keywords tag was the first element that webmasters used to "spam" search engines. This technique did not work for long as the search engines quickly adapted, and eventually, most of them ceased to use this element as any part of their ranking algorithms. Since this is not true of all search engines and correctly implemented meta tags will not hurt your rankings, it is advisable to continue with proper optimization.
Yes! Meta Tags Are Important
Meta tag optimization MUST be included as part of any good search engine optimization service, but if your SEO efforts end here, don’t expect to get high rankings. At SEO Inc., we include more details on meta tag optimization best practices for all SEO Consulting engagements, and we use these when we optimize websites for our in-house clients. Our meta tag optimization methodology has evolved over the past dozen years as search engines have involved.
- Proper formatting of meta tags
- The adequate positioning of meta tags in the code
- Length of each meta tag
- Where to position keywords in meta tags
- Meta tags to avoid and Meta tags that provide SEO benefits
Now Check Your Tags
After reading about meta tags, you may now be interested in knowing which meta tags your website is using.