What Are Meta Tags?

meta tagsIf you are just getting to understand the jargon of digital marketing and SEO, you have likely heard terms such as meta title, meta description and more mentioned.

Keep on reading to learn the various types of metadata, or meta tags, and their purpose.

Meta Tags Defined

While there are loads of meta tags that are built into websites, the following are the most common meta tag types that you should know about.

Meta Title

The title tag does exactly what it sounds like – it is the title you want to designate for your page to search engines and users. Many websites follow this format for their meta title:

<title>Page/Post Name | Site Name</title>

By using this format, users can see from Google the intent of the page and the organization the content comes from. Not to mention, this meta title is also a key place for SEOs to optimize for keywords.

Keep in mind, most search engines only display up to the first 50-60 characters in search results, according to Moz. So keep things trim.

Meta Description

The meta description is placed directly underneath the meta title, and is a short space for you to include details about the page or post.

Since this is another area to add keywords, be sure to write meta descriptions with the user in mind and appeal to what you think could help encourage them to click on your page.

And just like titles there is a character limit, with Moz recommending capping it at 160.

Meta Robots

As part of SEO best practices, you will want to condense your website so search engines can better understand it. This means that you may need to “noindex” PDFs, duplicate content, and more on your site.

The meta robots tag would allow you to do just that. There are four important variables you could add in this area:

  • Follow – When you want to give equity to outside links
  • Nofollow – When you do not want outside links to gain link value
  • Index – When you want a page to show up in search results
  • Noindex – When you do not want a page to show up in search results

However, Google has recently introduced new rules for nofollow and noindex tags that you should make note of.

Meta Keywords

Back in the day, loading up a site with meta keywords was all the rage, as many believed this was the secret way to have your content rank for all the terms you entered. However, in today’s age of SEO, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In 2009, Google announced that they do not use the keywords meta tag as a ranking factor. This means that this area of your site’s backend really doesn’t have much use. As you dive into a content analysis or evaluate older pages, you may see old meta keywords code, but simply consider it irrelevant – this area holds no impact on your rank.

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