What are Meta tags, and are they important for SEO?
As far as your search engine ranking goes, Meta tags are not the help that they once were. That being said however, they do serve a purpose and a good SEO provider will understand how and when to use them.
Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page. They take a variety of forms and serve various purposes, but generally speaking when people talk about Meta tags, they are referring to the Meta description tag and the Meta keywords tag.
Before search engine algorithms were as advanced as they are today, Meta tags were used as a kind of hidden language developed so that search engines could determine what a particular site was about. Unfortunately, there was nothing to stop unscrupulous webmasters from stuffing their sites with irrelevant or misleading Meta tags – such as using the search word “Disney” to lead to an adult site.
Because of this, many experts will tell you that Meta tags have little to no impact on your search ranking – that does not mean however that they are completely useless.
Often in a discussion about Meta tags, you will also hear the term “title tag”. The title tag is not technically not a Meta tag however, as it is a required component of your coding – Meta tags are optional.
Perhaps the most useful Meta tag is the Meta descriptions tag. A well-written description not only tells users what is on your page, but it is like a kind of advertisement – something that persuades a user to visit your site. A description is what shows up in the search engine results. It is like good curb appeal. Sites with poor or inadequate descriptions will get less clicks through and eventually get demoted by search engines in favor of other sites.
If a description is left empty, the search engine will fill it in for you. In some cases, this may actually be desirable – but if you’d rather describe your business yourself instead of letting Google or Bing do it, then a well written Meta description is the key. The one drawback however, is that even you write a great Meta description tag, there is no guarantee that the search engine is going to use it.
One Meta tag that you should not be using are the Meta keyword tags. The only search engine that looks at the keywords tags anymore is Bing – and they use it to detect spam. To avoid impeding your websites SEO standing, your best option is simply not to add this tag.
There are also other less well known meta tags, including the, refresh tag, robots tag, http-equiv tag to name a few. These tags are used to instruct user agents such as web browsers and search engine spiders on a variety of topics.
While meta tags no longer hold the place that they once did in the online world, there is still some value in them – especially in the meta description tags and a little no how can go a long way toward promoting your site.