SEO offers us a myriad of elements to optimize, and meta tags are one more of them. In addition, they are an extremely powerful resource to try to obtain better organic positions.
These tags are vital for the identity of our website and to improve its ranking on Google. If you want to know exactly what meta tags are and, above all, how to take advantage of them, we tell you everything below.
- Meta tags are indications written in HTML code, which give precise information to search engines about your website.
- Meta tags are an excellent first step to start optimizing the SEO of any web page.
- Their optimization can have a direct impact on the positioning of our URLs, as well as on their CTR.
What you should know about meta tags
If your goal is to start climbing the rankings of any search engine, you need to know about meta tags. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are a series of instructions that give identity to your page. They are written in HTML code and are specially designed to be understood by search engines.
However, these tags will always have an effect on usability and the final interface that the user sees. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that this information will be read by both robots and humans.
What are meta tags for?
Imagine meta tags as a credential that contains the main themes and features of your website. In this way, search engines, such as Google, will associate your page with certain search intentions.
The intention is to provide as many elements as possible for search engines to understand our content. Think that the more information we give Google, the easier it will be to appear in the results for certain keywords.
Should I invest time in writing meta tags?
The quick answer is yes. It definitely makes sense to spend time planning and writing these elements.
It is important to always think about the user of our website and how we can provide them with a better experience. Also, helping search engines understand our website will always be beneficial to our project.
Why do meta tags matter for SEO?
When we index new URLs to Google, the robots are in charge of crawling all the information that page is providing. In this way, Google understands what content it can return when a user performs a search.
If we write our meta tags strategically, we can take advantage of this communication channel with the robots, to rank better. The main objective will always be to climb places in the SERPs, and meta tags are a great resource to achieve it.
On the other hand, thinking about users, it is also possible to obtain certain advantages. If from the beginning we show clearly and creatively what our website offers, we will surely get more clicks.
Remember that, although meta tags are immersed in the code, we can design messages that the user can read directly.
The main meta tags that Google understands:
It is necessary to clarify that there is a much more extensive list of meta tags, which you can find later in this article. However, there are four main meta tags by which you can start optimizing your website:
- Title Tag: In Google, each result of a SERP, will show the main title that we can click on and enter the page.
- Meta-description tag: Again, in the SERP, we can find a description below the title that indicates the contents of the page.
- Meta-robots tag: This tag allows us to indicate to Google if we want their robots not to crawl or index any of our URLs.
- Viewport Tag: Google searches can be done from computers or mobiles. With this tag, we indicate in the code how the website should be displayed, depending on the device where it is being viewed.
How to write meta tags:
Meta tags are written in the HEAD of the code. When we talk about working them strategically, we are referring especially to using copywriting techniques. With this, we try to use the right words to increase the CTR.
Likewise, we will find some meta tags that are more technical than others. In this case, it is usually enough to work them into the HTML code.
How to write Title tags:
The titles will serve us mainly to draw attention; it is not just about placing a name on our page. We must be very indicative of the contents and topics that will be found in it.
When you write the title, always ask yourself what the user is looking for and why he/she should click on your URL. Take into account that Google can modify your title if it identifies that it is not written in the best way.
How to optimize Title tags:
- Use your main keyword at the beginning of the title (always consistently).
- You can include your brand name at the end of the title to give more identity.
- Try to summarize in one sentence the content of that page.
- Take advantage of the space: Google shows a maximum of 580 pixels, so limit it to 60 characters.
HTML code for Title tags:
<title>Here goes your optimized title with the recommendations we gave you</title>
Examples of good Titles:
How to write Meta-description tags:
Meta descriptions are the section immediately below the Title and serve to give further details of the URL content.
Write with more specificity why that page solves the search intention for which it is positioned. Remember, the text that appears there is directed to the user, not to the search engine.
How to optimize Meta-description tags:
- Include again the keyword you are attacking.
- Give the user a reason to enter your page. Why yours and not another one?
- Go deeper (without exaggerating) into the contents of that page.
- Do not do keyword staffing, that is, do not saturate the section with the keyword.
- Take advantage of the space: Google shows a maximum of 920 pixels, so keep it between 140 and 160 characters.
HTML code of Meta-description tags:
<meta name=”description” content=”Place your meta description here. Remember that it should be used to persuade the user, not so much the search engine.”/>
Examples of good Meta-descriptions:
How to write Meta-robots tags:
When we upload a website to Google, the search engine will automatically crawl all the information included in the uploaded URLs. This is where this tag comes into play.
There may be pages that we are not interested in showing to Google or to the user. For these cases, we can indicate a “noindex” or a “nofollow” and thus solve this aspect.
How to optimize Meta-robots tags:
- Be clear about which pages you want to show and which ones you don’t, before loading your website.
- This section can be a bit more technical, so it is always good to have someone who understands the code of the page.
- If you are not sure what you are indicating with this tag, better wait to work with someone who can guide you.
- The meta-robots tag is not the same as the Robots.txt file.
HTML code for Meta-robots tags:
<meta name=”robots” content=”follow, index, max-snippet:-1, max-video-preview:-1, max-image-preview:large”/>
How to write Viewport tags:
As with the previous tag, this tag has a more technical implication for the website. Basically, it is about the adaptability that your page will have with respect to the device on which it is displayed.
The screens of a mobile, a tablet or a computer are different. Thanks to this tag we can adapt the content of our URLs to any screen.
How to optimize Viewport tags:
There are no special recommendations here. Just make sure you are including this tag in your code.
HTML code of the Viewport tags:
<meta name=»viewport» content=»width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>…
Tools that can help optimize meta tags
Fortunately, there are more and more tools that automate these processes or, at least, make them easier for us. Especially for those who do not understand programming, these resources can be quite useful.
SEO by YOAST
This is a plug-in designed for WordPress. It is an excellent tool to forget about all the technical aspects such as the number of pixels or characters to use.
Through various indications, YOAST guides you when optimizing tags such as Title and meta-description, as well as other parameters. It has a very indicative and easy-to-understand interface.
All in one SEO Pack
Again, we are talking about a plug-in that you can add to WordPress. It is very similar to SEO by YOAST, but presents more practical and easy-to-understand usability.
It is a good option if you do not fully understand programming and are afraid to modify the code of your website.
Here we enter a more professional tool. Screaming Frog is software with free and paid versions, which helps to optimize all the on-page SEO of a website.
It is a resource widely used by professional SEOs. Therefore, if you have never worked with a project at this level, it may not be the best option for you.
In addition to optimizing meta tags, it is also possible to do entire audits of a URL or a site.
Google Webmaster tools
As its name suggests, this tool belongs to Google and is free. In this case, we can be sure that we are working with official data from the search engine.
If we go to “Search Aspect”, we can visualize information about the meta tags, as well as recommendations to optimize them.
How many meta tags are there?
Although we have presented the four tags that you can use to start optimizing the SEO of your website, there are many more.
Complete list of meta tags
Here are all the meta tags that Google understands:
- Meta-description: <meta name=»description» content=»A description of the page» />
- Meta-robots: <meta name=»robots» content=»…, …» /><meta name=»googlebot» content=»…, …» />
- Hide search box: <meta name=»google» content=»nositelinkssearchbox» />
- Prevent translation to other languages: <meta name=»googlebot» content=»notranslate» />
- Prevent translator to sound, out loud: <meta name=»google» content=»nopagereadaloud» />
- Verify with Google Search Console: <meta name=»google-site-verification» content=»…» />
- Define the number of characters and content: <meta http-equiv=»Content-Type» content=»…; charset=…» /> <meta charset=»…»
- Redirect URLS (in disuse): <meta http-equiv=»refresh» content=»…;url=…» />
- Adaptability to mobile devices: <meta name=»viewport» content=»…» />
- Rating adult content: <meta name=»rating» content=»adult» />
- <meta name=»rating» content=»RTA-5042-1996-1400-1577-RTA» />
If we are looking to improve our organic positioning in search engines like Google, optimizing our meta tags is a good starting point. It will always be necessary to think about the user when writing them.
Although these are indications written in the code itself, there are tools that we can use to make these processes more efficient. Using them can save us a lot of headaches, especially if programming is not our thing.
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