7 Most Important Meta Tags and How to Use Them for SEO

7 Most Important Meta Tags and How to Use Them for SEO

7 Most Important Meta Tags and How to Use Them for SEO

Remember when the Internet first came and information was “at the tips of our fingers”? Good old days.

Now, with tons of websites everywhere, the competition for attention and visibility has increased.

This is where meta tags come into the picture. If you effectively employ meta tags for SEO, you won’t get buried in the digital information graveyard. Your website will stand out at the tips of our fingers. 

In this entry, we’ll explore things you need to know about meta tags and their importance in SEO. We’ve put together a list of 7 important meta tags for your SEO success.

But before we jump straight to that, let’s go over a brief overview.

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are snippets of text that contain information about a web page and its content. They are designed to ensure accurate content indexing by search engines, helping them understand what a web page is about.

Crawlers can’t enjoy a good journalism like you and me, so these tags function as a descriptor. Similar to how artwork labels and descriptors work in an exhibition because we can’t “read” art.

But unlike artwork labels, meta tags are invisible to a web page’s visitors. These tags are placed in the page’s source code, within the <head> section of an HTML document.

Purpose of Meta Tags in SEO

Meta tags are crucial for ensuring your web pages show up on search engines. Crawlers analyze the tags to understand the relevance of each page content.

When you use keywords that resonate with the search queries of your target audience in your meta tags, it increases the chances of your web pages being considered relevant by search engines. Voilà! A boost to your page's ranking from those keywords.

Let’s break it down this way; Optimizing your meta tags can improve your web page’s ranking. When your web page ranks higher, it’s easier for users searching for related content to find you. This visibility can, in turn, increase organic traffic.

That seems like a good enough reason to start paying attention to your meta tags for SEO. It’s worth noting that some types of meta tags have more optimization impact than others. Keep reading to learn how you can prioritize your efforts when optimizing meta tags.

7 Most Important Meta Tags in SEO

1. Title Tags

Technically, the title tag is not considered a meta tag, but it's often discussed in the context of metadata because of its role in SEO, and it is placed in the <head> section.

The title tag—visible to both users and search engines—functions as a headline for web pages and is often the first thing users see. You may recognize title tags as the name of the tab for the page you’re viewing and the clickable, blue (or purple if you have clicked it) headline text that appears on SERPs.

First impressions matter, and the same holds true for your web page. Your title tag should inform users about your content and entice them to click on it. If you can’t get the first click, you won’t move to the second base.

While catchy titles are great, this meta tag has a specific purpose: attracting clicks with relevant keywords. An optimized title tag should incorporate target keywords and be within an ideal limit of 70 characters.


2. Meta Description Tags

A meta description is a summary or snippet of a web page's content. Although it is not visible to users on the web page itself, the description is displayed below the page’s title in SERPs.

Think of it as a mini advertisement: you aim to engage users and motivate them to click. Just like ads, it has limited space (about 160 characters) to grab attention and convince users to click.

You have to keep your description concise, highlight your key selling points, and most importantly, tailor it to the keywords users are searching for.

Bear in mind that meta description isn’t a direct ranking factor. However, a well-written one can drive clicks to your page from SERPs and will potentially improve your rankings over time. So, give it your best effort.

meta description.png

3. Heading Tags (H1-H6)

Headers or heading tags help organize content hierarchy on a web page.

You’re doing your page’s visibility a huge favor by segmenting sections and highlighting key points using headers.

Users rely on these headings to scan and locate key points on your web page, while search engines use them to understand your page's content.

The six levels of heading tags range from H1—the single most important title of your webpage—to H2 until H6 which act as progressively smaller subheadings that break down your content into sections.

Think of headings like a book's table of contents: H1 is the main title (like "Part One"), H2 is a chapter title (like "Chapter 1"), and H3 can be used for subsections within a chapter. 

4. Robots Meta Tags

Do you have voices in your head telling you what to do? Robots Meta Tags are exactly that of crawlers.

These tags are code lines hidden in your webpage's HTML, invisible to users but necessary for crawler navigation and interaction on your web page.

If you’re a website owner, you probably have duplicate pages you don’t want to be indexed or links to external websites you don’t want search engines to follow. Your job is to guide the robots by using this meta tag code.

You can include different directives in the code, like "index" (allow indexing), "noindex" (don't index), or "nofollow" (don't follow links). Of course, these aren’t the only directives. There are more technical SEO strategies you can explore.

Before you start bossing the robots around, keep in mind that this meta tag is more for suggestions rather than strict orders. Sometimes, search engines might decide to overlook them.

5. Social Media Meta Tags

It’s not hashtags [#] and mentions [@] if that’s what you think. Social media meta tags provide social media platforms with instructions on how to present information when your webpage is shared.

When you share your web page’s link on social media, you’ll notice the preview is displayed with an image, title, and description. That’s what Open Graph tags (For Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn) and Twitter Card tags do.

Think of it as creating a promotional poster or billboard for your web page content. You can customize the appearance of your shared content to attract attention and clicks on social media.

These meta tags may not have a big effect on SEO, but they do help attract more visitors and improve the user experience.

6. Image Alt Attributes

Also known as alt text or alt tags, image alt attributes are hidden captions for your web page’s image to help search engines understand them and rank your website accordingly.

Search engines aren't exactly Picassos – they can't "see" pictures like people do. They depend on alt text to understand what an image is all about and how it fits into your page content.

If your images are relevant to search terms, they can be indexed in image search results, which increases the visibility of your web page. This means the alt text should not be random but rather include targeted keywords with descriptive phrases for SEO.

Additionally, alt text acts as a spoken description for visually impaired users and as a written description if an image doesn't load.

7. Canonical Tags

Double-trouble duplicate content confuses search engines, but using canonical tags can prevent this issue.

Canonical tags function as a traffic guide for search engines when you have identical page content across different links.They direct search engines to the primary URL that you designate as the main version.

Websites can sometimes have the same content available under different URLs, like having two tees of different colors. This makes it difficult for search engines to decide which tees to display in SERPs.

A canonical tag is like a label that indicates the original source of content when it appears in multiple locations. Let’s take this as an example:

Imagine you have a product page for white tees with two URLs:

  1. https://www.mygreatsite.com/clothing/white-tees
  2. https://www.mygreatsite.com/fall-collection/white-tees (part of a fall collection)

Adding a canonical tag on both web pages that direct to the main product page tells search engines that the first URL is the preferred version for indexing.

Closing Thoughts

We've observed how meta tags in SEO function as a bridge between your website's content and search engines.

From first impressions of title tags to the control offered by robots meta tags, these elements provide information that search engines use to understand and rank your content.

However, meta tags extend beyond just algorithms. Well-written meta descriptions that directly address user search intent play a crucial role in user experience.

By understanding and effectively implementing meta tags for SEO, you can equip your website to communicate more clearly with both search engines and users.