Meta Tags and Do We Need Them Anymore?

One of the most fundamental parts of a website tends to get left off on many of the sites we see. That essential part is the humble meta tag. There are different types of meta tags, and while the value for some types has waned, there are others that assist in boosting your SEO.  Here’s a fast overview for the ones you do need.

Meta Tags 101Meta tags should be written for both users and search engines. The meta tag itself impacts how visible your site is in search engine results and also needs to have text to entice a searcher to click through. 

Check Your Title Tag
The title tag gives the specifics for both users and search engines. A good title tag should be under 60 characters (although Google displays anywhere from 55 to 64 characters). A statement from Moz reported that title tags are the most important on-page factor to get right for your SEO efforts after content. The title tag is located in the head content of your site pages, and its job is to tell searchers and search engines what they will find when they click the page. This is why clickbait titles are often considered low quality. 

The Meta Description
This is where some people get lost. Indeed, the meta description is no longer one of Google’s ranking factors, but a solid meta description is vital to your click-through rate and should be included in your SEO strategy. Google has previously stated that the snippets are dynamic, so there is no set “good” length. Using 135 to 155 characters to describe the content on the page and drop a strong call to action should work. Make your meta descriptions custom for each page; otherwise, Google tends to pull a random snippet that may or may not benefit your page. 

Alt Tags
Although they are getting better at image recognition, search engines are still text-driven. Adding accurate alt tags of up to 55 characters lends credence to the quality of the page for searchers. Give the image a unique, descriptive name also for extra credit. 

Canonical Tags
This is a big one a lot of people got away from using. Basically, when you have multiple URLs in use (nearly everyone does), the canonical tags inform search engines which URL you want in search results and inhibit the other URLs from being indexed. 

For example, if you have:

Google will assume all of these URLs are duplicates. By using a canonical link tag within the page-header tells the search engine which page is the correct one to be shown in search results. 

For example, assuming that your site with an active SSL certificate is the one you want to be indexed and shown,  https://mysite.com is the “main” page, this tag gets added to the page header:  <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://mysite.com” /> to each of those pages and the proper pages get indexed.

Header TagsThese are still important in your content. H1 tags are your title tags and carry the most weight. Include the focus keyword for best SEO practices. Other tags such as H2 for subheaders and H3 for paragraphs help make the content easy for viewers (and search engines) to scan and read.

Robots Meta Tag
The robots tag has the task of telling a bot whether that page should be indexed or not. There are many values, but four main ones apply:

  • FOLLOW: The bot follows all links on the page
  • NOFOLLOW: The bot will not follow any link on the page
  • INDEX: The bot will index the whole page
  • NOINDEX: The bot will not index the page

Meta tags still play a supporting role in the health of your SEO strategy. If you do not have time to inspect your site, contact Horizon Marketing at (310) 734-1493 for a free SEO Audit.

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