Why Meta Tags Are Still Relevant to SEO - and the Best Way to Use Them
Within the constantly shifting guidelines for what does and doesn’t boost a website’s SEO, meta tags typically don't garner much attention. They don't directly impact Google SEO rankings, but they can still impact a site’s SEO, so it's important to understand how this happens, which meta tags matter and how to maximize them.
Here's why meta tags can still boost SEO on your site.
- They affect Google’s indexing of your site. Meta tags allow Google to understand the content of your pages so they can appear in relevant searches.
- Meta tags can boost your keywords ranking. When you include quality keywords in your meta tags, Google is more likely to list your site higher in web search results, which can help you get noticed.
- The right meta tags can influence user experience. Tags create an expectation for the user that your website should meet or, ideally, exceed. Meta tags can also make it easier for people to find exactly what they are looking for on your site, which reduces frustration.
Meta tags are especially relevant when you realize that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. If you want to increase your website views and SEO ranking, it's a good idea to utilize meta tags.
Potential Meta Tags to Use
There are many places where you can embed meta tags on your site, but these five are starting points that can help provide the best ROI for your time and effort.
- Title Tags: These critical tags become the text displayed above the description of your page in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and serve as a preview of your website. Ideally, every page of your website should have a unique meta tag.
- Meta Description: This is the text that appears below your title tag and should build on the information provided in the title tag. It serves as another way to draw people to your website and can be crucial for getting leads to click through to your listing.
- Canonical Tag: These tags help guide people to the right page of your site. It is especially helpful if you have pages of nearly identical information, such as similar product pages. Canonical tags also inform Google that these are two separate pages so that you aren’t penalized for duplicate content.
- Alt Tag: This image optimization tag makes your images accessible to people and search engines. This is an underutilized but highly valuable meta tag that can help boost user engagement.
- Header Tag: These tags help you break up large pieces of content into smaller sections to improve user experience on your site. They can also help search engines better understand your information to appropriately index it, which can have a significant impact on your SEO rankings.
Best Practices for Meta Tags
To get the most benefit from meta tags, here are a few best practices to consider.
- Keep it short: Google’s new meta description length is approximately 158 characters, according to Spotibo. For mobile devices, the maximum is 120 characters. However, Google typically displays 55 to 61 characters on a desktop computer, so you'll likely want to write a tight descriptive tag that's under 60 characters.
- Use keywords: Select one or two important keywords, then try to use them naturally in your tags rather than cramming in as many as you can. This is the first impression people will have of your site, so it's important to make it a good one.
- Include branding: When writing your tag, be sure to include your logo, company name or website URL so that the information presented is clearly connected with your business.
- Use modifiers: Modifiers can help you describe your product or service in fewer words. Consider options such as: Best, Top, Buy, Easy, How To, Current, Review, Find, etc.
- Make each meta tag unique: Google recommends that all title tags be 100 percent unique on your site, and that’s a good rule of thumb to follow when creating all meta tags.
- Use the exact keyword: Don’t try to make a tag different by rephrasing a keyword into less-common wording because it likely won't boost your keyword ranking and could even make people less likely to find you in a search.