SEO Basics - Meta Tags
The meta tags are a fundamental must for any successful optimisation, but what exactly are meta tags and what can they do for you website? In short, they can help you rank and target specific keywords as we shall explore more about them and how to implement them onto your website correctly.
What are they?
Meta tags are snippets of HTML code that give the search engines important information about the topic of that particular page. This information is then displayed in the search engine results page when someone searches for you website and also helps to determine what keywords you rank for.
Which Ones Do I Need?
There are 3 main meta tags that you need on your website:
The Title Tag
This is the main tag on your website, it should be no more than 70 characters long (including spaces) and should include the keywords related to that page. Each title tag should be unique!
This tag is considered to be the most important element on your page to help it rank, so you should use good research from the keyword tool to help you pick the correct keywords for it.
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Each keyword is separated by the | symbol.
The Meta Description Tag
This is the description of the page, it should be no more than 150 characters long (including spaces) and should include the main keywords of the site and a small description. Again, like the title tag, the meta description should be unique and informative.
This is also an important element on your page so a good well thought out description will not only help you, but also people viewing the description in the search results.
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The Meta Keywords Tag
These are the keywords associated with the page, however this tag is in reality no longer needed as the major search engines do not use it to determine rankings. However adding it to your website will not harm you in anyway.
The meta keywords tag should be only 5-7 keywords separated with commas and no spaces. Words and phrases can use spaces.
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How Do I Put Them Onto My Website?
Most website content management systems allow you to add these via menus pre-built in. However some websites will require you to add these yourself in the HTML code. Below is a template of code that you will need to add to your websites pages:
<title>Your Title Here</title>
<meta name="description" content="Your Meta Description Here" />
<meta name="keywords" content="your,keyword phrases,here" />
You simply need to place these just after thetag in your code.
What You Should Know
Meta tags are a vital part of your pages and each page should have its own unique set of tags with the relevant keywords. Although meta tags will help, they will not guarantee rankings, as with most of these methods, they will improve your chances and should be used together with link building and content creation to ensure the best possible chance of ranking.
Other Meta Tags
There are lots of other meta tags out there but the Title Tag and Meta Description Tag are the main ones that you should do right. In my opinion the others are pretty redundant.
Well, I hope this has given you an insight to the Meta Tags, as always if you have any questions or need some guidance putting these correctly onto your website please feel free to leave a comment below!
I've had a few people ask me about the Robots meta tags that exist, such as:
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
<meta name="robots" content="all" />
In short, you can have them on your website and they may help, but they are not necessary or something I'd worry about not having. I think that the Title Tag and the Meta Description are the ones (in conjunction with other SEO tactics) that will make a difference to your rankings.
I recommend checking out this article for a bit of clarification on the robots meta tags and how to use them on your site.