What is a Meta Tag?
When optimizing your website for search engines, one of the most important aspects you will want to focus on is the meta tags, also known as meta elements. These elements are not visible in your on-page content, though, as they can only be found in your page’s code. Meta elements are used to help search engines better understand what that page of your website is about, which can help improve your search result rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
At StatCounter, we allow you to access detailed information about where your website’s traffic comes from and how users interact on your site. This information can be quite helpful when developing a sound SEO strategy for your website. Before you sign up for StatCounter, or upgrade to our Growth Plan, let us fill you in on meta tags, how to use them, and why they are important.
If you’re ready to move onto further reading with regards to SEO, you can find additional information on the pages we’ve provided below:
Types of Meta Tags
As mentioned before, meta tags are immensely important to your SEO strategy, but there are several types of meta tags you need to be familiar with. Meta tags are found in the header of your page’s code. Because of this, it’s only visible to search engines, and users who choose to view your page source code. To further help you understand the importance of meta tags, we have outlined each type in detail below.
Meta keywords, while once useful, are nearly obsolete today. These keywords were once used to help search engines understand what the content on a given page of your website was about. Unfortunately, website owners, and marketers alike, abused meta keywords and stuffed this attribute with keywords completely unrelated to the topic of the page in question.
This isn’t to say meta keywords are useless, however, they do not carry as much weight in search engine algorithms as they once did. In fact, some search engines have removed them entirely from their algorithm. When choosing meta keywords for your website, be sure to choose keywords that are relevant to the content on your website.
Title tags are arguably the most important of the meta tags. Title tags are the clickable blue text found in search results, sitting directly above the meta description. This is a major part of most search engine’s algorithms, and they can help the search user better understand what that web page is about, and whether or not it meets their intent.
Seeing as title tags carry a lot of weight in most search engine algorithms, it is important to include a keyword relevant to your website in the title tag for each page of your site. Also, be sure that the title tag accurately describes the content on that given page. This will help keep your bounce rate low and your visitors interested in your website. Be sure to avoid stuffing your title tags with keywords, as well, as this is a common, yet manipulative practice and could result in a penalty from search engines.
Directly beneath the title tag in search results is the meta description. This is a short snippet, about 160 characters in length, that describes the web page in more detail than the title tag does. While the meta description does not directly affect search result rankings, as it is not part of most search engine’s algorithms, it can help the search users better understand the content on your site before they visit it. Considering this, do what you can to set your meta description apart from the rest. Unless they click to site for each search result, the user will need to scan each meta description to determine if the page meets their intent.
Adding to the idea mentioned above, it’s good practice to view the search results of a keyword you’re targeting. This way, you can get a good idea of not just the content that ranks, but how the title tags and meta descriptions are structured for that keyword. You can then use your finding to create similar tags and set yourself apart from the rest.
While meta descriptions don’t directly affect your search engine results rankings, incorporating a keyword into them can still benefit your site. If the keyword is included in your meta description, it will be bolden in the search results to help the search user better understand what that web page is about, and whether or not it is relevant to their search query.
Meta Robots Attribute
The final type of meta tag is the meta robots attributes. These meta tags tell search engines two things: if the page should be indexed by search engines, and if search engines should trust links on your page and consider them “follow” links.
Meta robots attributes are useful in several circumstances. For example, if you are using a page of your website as a landing page for paid advertisements, adding a noindex meta robot attribute can make it so this page is not available on search engine results pages. Since landing pages serve a unique purpose, this can help you track the performance of your ad using StatCounter.
Track Your Progress With StatCounter
As you can see, meta tags play an important role in search engine optimization. Using them properly can help you develop a sound SEO strategy for your website, while misuse can have negative repercussions on your site’s performance in search engine results.
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