Meta Tags

Meta tags are a set of words in the HTML document that are located in the header or <HEAD> of a webpage after the title tag. These tags are primarily used to add a description about a website. Back in the early days of the search engine, many websites stuffed this area with keywords. Due to the abuse, the value of meta tags has substantially decreased when it comes to SEO.

However, that does not mean that meta tags are not useful. They still hold relevant information about the website and search engines still take that information into consideration. But some (not all) search engines do not count them when it comes to page rankings. Search engines use meta tags for indexing. Therefore it’s still very important to keep the information in the meta tags relevant and concise.

There are many types of meta tags. The ones that refer to SEO are the meta description tag and the meta keywords tag.

Meta Description Tag

The meta description tag is a short summary about the webpage’s content. This description is usually found after the website title. Meta description tags have a character limit ranging between 170-200. It is advisable to keep the description as unique and brief as possible.

Meta Keywords Tags

Meta keyword tag is similar to the meta description tag but instead of a description, keywords or phrases are used. Meta keyword tags have a limit of 10-15 words or phrases, separated by commas. It is good to take note that you should not repeat the keywords. Similar to alt attribute tags, keywords at the beginning hold more weight compare to the keywords at the end.

Meta Tags To Avoid

There are a set of meta tags that are not as as useful and technically is a waste of time and space through the eyes of a search engine. Its best to avoid these meta tags because you’re only allowed a specific amount of characters in the <HEAD>, therefore, its best to use that space wisely. There’s a long list of miscellaneous meta tags, but these are just a few to give you an idea of what kind of information shouldn’t be there.

  • Revisit After- Advises crawlers to return to a web page after a set amount of time. However, search engines usually never follow this.
  • Expiration/Date- Gives extra information about the page expiry date and when the page was made. Use the Sitemap instead (mentioned in the previous chapter about Sitemaps).
  • Copyright- This is redundant because the bottom of the webpage should already include a copyright note.
  • Author- Advises who created the page. Not that it’s completely irrelevant, but it has no place in the meta tag area.

Conclusion

To conclude, meta tags are still important even if they don’t directly contribute to search engine page rankings. The meta description tag is the first thing the visitor will see about your site, therefore it’s still worth putting in time and effort for. A well-written meta description tag can attract visitors to a website. It all depends on the content. As for the meta keywords tag, there’s no harm in making sure the content of the website is categorized and indexed properly. Especially if your webpage contains misleading jargon or items that the search engine could easily misinterpret.

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