What are the Important SEO tags?
So What are SEO Tags?
It is so important to get the best on-page SEO ranking that is possible. Using tags is another great way to jump over the top of your competition. We have compiled these articles to assist you in developing a strategy for tagging.
Some tags are vital for SEO. Others have little or no impact on rankings. Here’s every type of meta tag you need to know about.
In SEO, sometimes, we tend to focus on one aspect of optimization efforts more than others.
Link building is especially often touted as the “single most important thing to optimize.”
In fact, as Google’s John Mueller reminds us (once again), there is no single most important thing – no trick to pull cosmically high rankings out of the hat.
Instead, we need to focus on a comprehensive SEO strategy.
Part of that strategy includes using HTML meta tags – a crucial component for SEO success.
Using the right meta-tags the right way is all about communicating to the search engines:
- What your page is about.
- How to read it.
- Who should see it?
- With that in mind, let’s go over which meta tags are crucial for SEO and how to use them well.
The title tag is your main and most important anchor.
The <title> element typically appears as a clickable headline in the SERPs and shows up on social networks and browsers.
For example, if you view the HTML for this article, you’ll see the title is:
<title>10 Most Important Meta Tags You Need to Know for SEO</title>
Title tags are placed in the <head> of your webpage and are meant to provide a clear and comprehensive idea of what the page is all about.
But do they have a major impact on rankings as they used to for many years?
Over the past few years, user behavior factors were being discussed a lot as logical proof of relevance and thus a ranking signal – even Google representatives admit its impact here and there.
The page’s title still is the first thing for a searcher to see in SERPs and decide if the page is likely to answer the search intent.
A well-written one may increase clicks and traffic, which have at least some impact on rankings.
A simple experiment can also show that Google no longer needs your title tag to include an exact match keyword to know the topic the page covers.
For instance, a couple of years ago, a Google search for [how to build brand awareness] would bring up 2 out of the top 5 results with titles exactly matching your query.
And yet, not a single irrelevant result either: every single one of the pages given here explains how to build awareness, and the titles reflect that.
Search engines are looking at the whole picture, and they tend to evaluate a page’s content as a whole, but the cover of a book still matters – especially when it comes to interaction with searchers.
- Give each page a unique title that describes the page’s content concisely and accurately.
- Keep the titles up to 50-60 characters long (for them not to get truncated in the SERPs). Remember that long titles are shortened to about 600-700px on the SERP.
- Put important keywords first, but naturally, as if you write titles for your visitors in the first place.
- Make use of your brand name in the title. Even if it ends up not being shown on the SERPs, it’ll still make a difference for the search engine.
The title tag is precious not only because it’s prime SERP real estate but also because it functions as a tab title in your web browser.
2. Meta description
A Meta Description is an HTML element that summarizes your web page. Search engines typically show the Meta description in search results below your Title tag.
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description sample. We can add up to 160 characters.”>
Google does not use the Meta description as a ranking signal; still, it has a massive effect on your page CTR because it shows up in search results.
In December 2017, Google increased the length of snippets in search results. Now Google confirms it shortened search results snippets after expanding them last December.
What will be the optimum length for Meta Description?
The new average length of the description snippet field on the desktop is at around 160 characters, down from around 300+ characters.
Mobile characters for the search results snippets are now down to an average of 130 characters.
Key Points to write a good Meta Description tag:
- Don’t emphasize the number of characters, as Google might pull Meta description text from your content based on a user’s query.
- Do not add duplicate Meta Descriptions.
- Add clear Call-to-action (CTA) in your descriptions like Apply today, Check-out, Contact us today, etc. See these CTA keywords for marketing campaigns.
- Add your targeted keywords in descriptions.
- Strategically provide solutions to a problem.
- Write for your users and encourage them to click with specific and relevant content.
- Add any discounts or offers you’ve gone on.
- Show empathy while writing your Meta Descriptions.
The Canonical tag is an HTML link tag with the “rel=canonical” attribute used if you have a single page URL with the same content as other multiple page URLs.
By implementing the Canonical tag in the code, we tell search engines that this URL is the main page and avoid indexing other duplicate page URLs.
A canonical tag Syntax:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/” />
Where should we choose a canonical URL?
Google sees all the above URLs as duplicate versions of the Homepage. And to fix this problem, the canonical tag (rel=canonical) was invented.
Session ID URLs:
These are the automatic system-generated URLs and commonly generated due to the tracking URLs, breadcrumb links, and permalinks in CMS
When using a special URL (m. example.com) for the mobile version of your website.
SEMrush itself has 2 versions – one is a mobile version, and the other is a desktop version. For the mobile and desktop version, SEMrush is using the following canonical tag:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.semrush.com/” />
The Alt tag is important for any images, as search engines cannot read them, so you need to add proper Alt text to the images so the search engine can consider them.
The syntax for Alt Text:
<img src=”http://example.com/xyz.jpg” alt=”xyz” />
Key points to consider while creating alt-tags for images:
- All images should have informative filenames
- Alt text needs to be short, clear, and to the point
- Always use the original, right type of image, as this is an essential step towards success
- Create an image sitemap
- Use 50-55 characters (up to 16 words) in the alt text
- Use an optimal file size without degrading its quality for faster page loading speed
The Robots Meta tag is an HTML tag that provides instructions to web crawlers on whether to index or noindex a web page.
The Robots Meta tag has four main values for search engine crawlers:
- FOLLOW –The search engine crawler will follow all the links on that web page
- INDEX –The search engine crawler will index the whole web page
- NOFOLLOW – The search engine crawler will NOT follow the page and any links on that web page
- NOINDEX – The search engine crawler will NOT index that web page
The Robots Meta tag syntax:
<meta name=” robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”> – Means not to index or not to follow this web page.
<meta name=” robots” content=” index, follow”> – Means index and follow this web page.
Note: The robot’s Meta tag should be placed in the <head> section of your web page.
Open Graph Meta tags are designed to promote integration between Facebook, Linked In, Google, and the website URLs that you shared on these platforms.
Here is a sample of how Open Graph tags look like in standard HTML:
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />
<meta property=”og:title” content=”TITLE OF YOUR POST OR PAGE” />
<meta property=”og:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”LINK TO THE IMAGE FILE” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”PERMALINK” />
<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”SITE NAME” />
Twitter cards work similarly to Open Graph, except you add these special Meta tags only for Twitter. Twitter will use these tags to enhance the display of your page when shared on their platform.
Here is a sample of how a Twitter card looks like in standard HTML:
<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”TITLE OF POST OR PAGE”>
<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT”>
<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”LINK TO IMAGE”>
<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@USERNAME”>
<meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@USERNAME”>
A Header tag is used for headings creations, i.e., by using these, we can apply font changes.
The heading elements are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6, with H1 being the highest (or most important) level and H6 the least.
Here is an example of how we can use header tags taken from SEMrush:
<h1> 9 Tips for Boosting the Speed of your Shopify Website </h1>
<p>Paragraph of content</p>
<p>another paragraph of content</p>
<p>Paragraph of content</p>
<h3>Analyzes the Mobile and Desktop Performance with PageSpeed Insights</h3>
The final important Meta tag is the Responsive Design Meta tag, which we call “Viewport Meta Element.” By using the viewport meta tag, we can control the layout for web pages on mobile browsers.
This viewport element is included in the head section of your web page.
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width,initial-scale=1″>
The good meta tags
These are the meta tags that should be on every page, no matter what. Notice that this is a small list; these are the only ones that are required, so if you can work with just these, please do.
Meta content type – This tag must declare your character set for the page and present it on every page. Leaving this out could impact how your page renders in the browser. A few options are listed below, but your web designer should know what’s best for your site.
<meta HTTP-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/HTML; charset=utf-8″ />
<meta HTTP-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/HTML; charset=ISO-8859-1″>
Title – While the title tag doesn’t start with “meta,” it is in the header and contains essential information for SEO. It would help if you always had a unique title tag on every page that describes the page. Check out this post for more information on title tags.
Meta description – The infamous meta description tag is used for one major purpose: to describe the page to searchers as they read through the SERPs. This tag doesn’t influence ranking, but it’s essential regardless. It’s the ad copy that will determine if users click on your result. Keep it within 160 characters, and write it to catch the user’s attention. Sell the page — get them to click on the result. Here’s a great article on meta descriptions that goes into more detail.
Viewport – In this mobile world, you should be specifying the viewport. If you don’t, you run the risk of having a poor mobile experience — the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool will tell you more about it. The standard tag is:
<meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>
Different sites will need to use these in specific circumstances, but if you can go without, please do.
Social meta tags – I’m leaving these out. OpenGraph and Twitter data are important to share but are not required per se.
Robots – One huge misconception is that you have to have a robot’s meta tag. Let’s make this clear: In terms of indexing and link following, if you don’t specify a meta robots tag, they read that as an index, follow. If you want to change one of those two commands, you need to add meta robots. Therefore, if you want to noindex but follow the links on the page, you would add the following tag with only the noindex, as the following is implied. Only change what you want to be different from the norm.
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />
Specific bots (Googlebot) – These tags are used to give specific bot instructions like noodp (forcing them not to use your DMOZ listing information, RIP) and noydir (same, but instead the Yahoo Directory listing information). Generally, the search engines are really good at this kind of thing on their own, but if you think you need it, feel free. There have been some cases I’ve seen where it’s necessary, but if you must, consider using the overall robots tag listed above.
Language – The only reason to use this tag is to move internationally and declare the main language used on the page. Check out this meta languages resource for a full list of languages you can declare.
Geo – The last I heard, these meta tags are supported by Bing but not Google (you can target a country inside Search Console). There are three kinds: placename, position (latitude and longitude), and region.
<META NAME=”geo.position” CONTENT=”latitude; longitude”>
<META NAME=”geo.placename” CONTENT=”Place Name”>
<META NAME=”geo.region” CONTENT=”Country Subdivision Code”>
Keywords – Yes, I put this on the “indifferent” list. While no good SEO will recommend spending any time on this tag, there’s some minimal possibility it could help you somewhere. Please leave it out if you’re building a site, but there’s no reason to remove it if it’s automated.
Refresh – This is the poor man’s redirect and should not be used, if at all possible. You should always use a server-side 301 redirect. I know that sometimes things need to happen now, but Google is NOT a fan.
Site verification – Your site is verified with Google and Bing. Who has the verification meta tags on their homepage? These are sometimes necessary because you can’t get the other forms of site verification loaded, but try to verify another way if at all possible. Google allows you to verify by DNS, external file, or by linking your Google Analytics account. Bing still only allows by XML file or meta tag, so go with the file if you can.
Nothing bad will happen to your site if you use these — let me make that clear. They’re a waste of space, though; even Google says so (and that was 12 years ago now!). If you’re ready and willing, it might be time for some spring cleaning of your <head> area.
Author/web author – This tag is used to name the author of the page. It’s just not necessary on the page.
Revisit after – This meta tag commands the robots to return to a page after a specific period of time. It’s not followed by any major search engine.
Rating – This tag is used to denote the maturity rating of content. I wrote a post about tagging a page with adult images using a very confusing system that has since been updated (see the post’s comments). It seems as if the best way to note bad images is to place them on a separate directory from other images on your site and alert Google.
Expiration/date – “Expiration” is used to note when the page expires, and “date” is the date the page was made. Are any of your pages going to expire? Just remove them if they are (but please don’t keep updating content, even contests — make it an annual contest instead!). And for “date,” make an XML sitemap and keep it up to date. It’s much more useful.
Copyright – That Google article debates this with me a bit, but look at the footer of your site. I would guess it says “Copyright 20xx” in some form. Why say it twice?
Abstract – This tag is sometimes used to abstract the content and is used mainly for educational pursuits.
Distribution – The “distribution” value is supposedly used to control who can access the document, typically set to “global.” It’s inherently implied that if the page is open (not password-protected, like on an intranet) that it’s meant for the world. Go with it, and leave the tag off the page.
Generator – This is used to note what program created the page. Like “author,” it’s useless.
Cache-control – This tag is set to control when and how often a page is cached in the browser. It’s best to do this in the HTTP header.
Resource type – This is used to name the type of resource the page is, like “document.” Save yourself time, as the DTD declaration does for you.
It is worth the time. Invest it, figure it out! Tagging is easy, simple, and straightforward. Why not have your page potentially rank higher with simple tagging. Should you need any assistance with on-page SEO, give us a call at RapidPage.ca
Article compiled by RapidPage
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