Everything You Need to Know About Meta Tags

Meta tags are an essential part of optimizing your website’s SEO! In this article, we’ll cover all the major aspects of on-page SEO including meta tags, from image alt tags, to page titles, to meta descriptions.

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Meta Descriptions

The meta description is an HTML element that provides a brief summary of the contents of a website’s page for the benefit of users and search engines. This snippet of text may appear in the search engine results under your headline and can impact click-through rates.

The qualities that make an effective title tag also apply to effective meta descriptions. Although Google says that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, like title tags, they are incredibly important for click-through rate.

  • Relevance: Meta descriptions should be highly relevant to the content of your page, so it should summarize your key concept in some form. You should give the searcher enough information to know they’ve found a page relevant enough to answer their question, without giving away so much information that it eliminates the need to click through to your web page.
  • Length: It’s best to write meta descriptions between 130–160 characters in length. Keep in mind that the correct length will vary depending on the situation, and your main goal is to provide value and drive clicks. On some SERPs, you’ll notice that Google gives much more real estate to the descriptions of some pages. This usually happens for web pages ranking right below a featured snippet.

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Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords are a meta tag that doesn’t make much sense to use these days. Meta keyword tags may have help with SEO at one point, but not anymore. A while ago, users searching for page views would insert unrelated keywords into the code of their pages in an attempt to steal traffic from the more popular pages, known as keyword stuffing. Google started to notice this and decided to devalue the tool.

These days Google doesn’t use meta keywords in its ranking algorithm at all.

Alt Tags

Search engines and other robots cannot interpret images, but images can play a crucial part in how people interpret a particular web page. Alt tags solve for this by providing text which is read by the search engines. The best format for alt text is sufficiently descriptive that contains your keyword in 125 words or less but at the same time doesn’t contain any spammy attempts at keyword stuffing. The image file name should also describe what the image is. There are several reasons why alt tags are important.

Image SEO

Adding alt text to your images not only makes for a better user experience, but it also affects your SEO. For best image SEO practices, you should be implementing image little and file naming as well as alt text to have a well-rounded SEO strategy.

Although search engine image recognition technology has improved drastically over the years, search crawlers still can’t visually see the images on a website page as we can, so it’s not wise to leave the interpretation solely in their hands. If they don’t understand or get it wrong, you could either rank for unintended keywords or miss out on ranking altogether.

Page Titles

Title tags, on the other hand, are the most important of all of the meta tags discussed here. These tags have a real impact on search rankings and, perhaps just as importantly, are the only one of the tags we’ll discuss here that are visible to the average user. You’ll find them at the top of your browser (for organic search pages or for PPC landing pages)

This is particularly useful if you want to give the page one primary title for the user but want to clarify or simplify that information for SEO purposes and for the user who’s shuffling multiple tabs on their desktop.

Index/noindex vs Follow/nofollow

When it comes to understanding index/noindex and follow/nofollow, it can be tricky and they each mean something different to the search engine. With this attribute, you’re telling the search engines what to do with your pages.

  • Index/noindex – This tells the engines whether to show your page in search results or not.
  • Follow/nofollow – This tells the engines what to do with links on your pages: whether they should trust and “follow” your links to the next page or not.

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Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text with which you link to pages. Below, you can see an example of what a hyperlink without anchor text and a hyperlink with anchor text would look like in the HTML. The anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page. For example, if I link to a page on my site using the anchor text “learn SEO,” that’s a good indicator to search engines that the targeted page is one at which people can learn about SEO.

Be careful not to overdo it, though. Too many internal links using the same, keyword-stuffed anchor text can appear to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate a page’s ranking. It’s best to make anchor text natural rather than formulaic.

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