What are Meta Tags and are They Still Important?

There’s a huge question mark on this— are meta tags still important today for SEO?

This has been a point of argument for many SEO specialists and webmasters ever since Google pulled out meta tags from their ranking factors.

What are Meta Tags?

Meta tags refer to the words you place within your code which are hidden to users but are read by search crawlers.

Even now, the search engines still read them to have a better idea of what a webpage is all about and also what your keywords are.

They are found within the head area of your HTML.

A meta tag has three important parts: the title tag, description tag, and keywords. Let’s take a look at what each means and why each one is valuable.

  • Title Tag

If you want a different title that incorporates your keywords to appear on search engine results, then it’s essential to have a title tag. This is great for giving users a quick idea about what content to expect, thus increasing your click-through rate and targeting of customers and visitors.

This meta element should therefore be thought out carefully. First, it must be made up of less than 70 characters to ensure that the whole title is displayed and seen at a glance. Second, include your main keywords that would be displayed in bold on search results pages. However, still make it sound natural and please avoid keyword spamming.

  • Description Tag

What is your site or webpage all about? Write the gist of it in the description tag so search engines will be able to detect which is the valid summary of your site. This summary is likely to appear on SERPs as snippets located under your URL.

You may have individual description tags for your blog posts and webpages. This way, even if the first few words or the first actual paragraph on the page doesn’t include keywords or don’t indicate the content, these will not be the one that’s displayed on search results. Your meta description will be the one shown.

Remember to make meta descriptions 150 to 160 characters long, with integrated keywords, preferably a unique one for each page. Make sure to write each description as a way to entice your target audience to click on the URL. If you have too many pages on your website, just use the descriptions for the most relevant and critical pages. While Google and the major search engines do not use the meta description as a basis of ranking, a more helpful meta description will improve click through rates, which will impact your ranking.

  • Keywords Tag

The third component of a meta tag is the keywords. These are the words or phrases that sums up what your site is about and what it’s for. The keywords could be potential search phrases that you believe will be used by your target market.

Back in the early days of search, the keyword tag was everything.  As the web became more commercial in nature, “keyword stuffing” became an SEO trend, and it wasn’t long before the search engines stopped looking at the keywords tag.  It is mostly assumed that the meta keywords tag is no longer used, and is no longer of any value, but should you choose to use it, be sure to use it properly.  Many long time SEO’s will tell you that the meta keywords field used properly has no value, but used incorrectly will harm you.

How Can It Affect Your Site’s SEO?

All of the meta tag elements discussed above still affect your site’s SEO despite them not being part of Google’s ranking factors anymore.

You have to understand that meta tags are still used by search engine robots in order to examine and validate your site niche and content based on the title, description, and keywords you have indicated within your codes.

As a result, your site is likely to have more credibility when you have these meta tags in place, given that they do authenticate your content.

Furthermore, these meta tags are very helpful in boosting your click-through rate. When searchers or web users see that your eye-catching title and description, they are likely to choose your URL over others. This is especially true if you are able to capture the essence or main message of the content through these meta tags and your content turns out to be the one that will be of most use to what the searcher needs or wants.

This is very good for users because they don’t have to spend so much time clicking on URLs with similar content that turns out to NOT have the info they are looking for.

Just imagine this— 95% of an entry on SERPs is made up of the meta tag. Your meta title and description are the first things that a user encounters of your webpage. They create the first impression, so you need to make sure they are crafted well.

Meta tags are still valuable because they can capture a user’s attention, entice conversations and clicks, and even promote your branding. They serve as the display on the window of a mall store or even as a TV commercial or print ad in a magazine. These meta tags are your pitch for your website, products, and services.

Therefore, even Google recommends for website owners and developers to continue using meta tags. These remain to be important for overall SEO.  For more information on Meta Tags, visit the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium’s W3Schools) page on meta tags.

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