Meta tags have long been a core part of SEO (search engine optimization). They are HTML tags that provide information about a web page’s content to search engines and other web crawlers. While there are many meta tags available, not all of them are still relevant to SEO. Let’s take a closer look at the most important meta tags for SEO.
A meta tag is a piece of data that is embedded in the HTML of a web page and provides information about the page to search engines and other web browsers. Meta tags are not visible to users, but they can be very important for SEO.
Not all meta tags are created equal. Some meta tags, such as the title tag and the description meta tag, are still very important for SEO. Others, such as the keywords meta tag, are no longer used by Google and have no effect on SEO.
The title tag is one of the most important meta tags for SEO. It is the text that appears in the title bar of a web browser and in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It tells search engines what the page is about and is often used as the clickable link in search results. The title tag should be between 50 and 60 characters and should include the main target keywords for the page.
Title tags have always been the first item to consider when optimizing your site for search engines, and indeed they still are. Make sure your page titles are descriptive and accurate, and feature the key phrases you want to rank for.
The description tag is also still important for SEO. It provides a brief summary of the page’s content and is often displayed in search results underneath the title tag. The description tag should be between 150 and 160 characters and should include the main keywords for the page. It should briefly summarize the page’s content, and it should be enticing enough to encourage users to click on the link.
While the meta description is still relevant for SEO, using keywords in it excessively doesn’t make much sense anymore. Search engines now place more emphasis on the overall quality and relevance of the meta description tag.
The robots meta tag tells search engines which pages should be indexed and which ones should not. The two most common values for the robots tag are “index” and “noindex”. The “index” value tells search engines to index the page, while the “noindex” value tells search engines not to index the page. It can be used to prevent certain pages from being indexed, such as pages that are under construction or that are not yet ready for public consumption.
The robots tag can also specify whether crawlers should “follow” or “nofollow” links on the page. By default, links are considered “follow” links, meaning that search engines will follow them and consider them as part of the page’s overall ranking.
However, sometimes there are links on a page that are not necessarily important for SEO or that the site owner doesn’t want search engines to consider when ranking the page. In these cases, “nofollow” can be added to the robots tag, indicating to search engines that they should not follow the links or use them in ranking calculations. This can be useful for links to pages with low-quality content, user-generated content that may contain spam, or paid links that are not editorially endorsed by the site owner.
The canonical tag is an essential meta tag that helps search engines understand which version of a web page is the preferred one. This is especially important for e-commerce sites that may have several similar product pages or for sites that have several versions of a page for different languages or regions. By specifying the canonical URL, webmasters can avoid duplicate content issues and ensure that the correct page is indexed in search results.
It’s also worth noting that the canonical tag is a hint, not a directive, so search engines may still choose to index other versions of the page if they deem it necessary.
Open Graph Tags
Open Graph tags are a set of meta tags that help optimize the content of a webpage for social media sharing. These tags allow the web developer to control how a webpage appears when it is shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. By specifying the title, description, image, and other relevant details of the webpage, the Open Graph tags can help make the content more attractive and clickable when shared on social media.
Open Graph tags are especially important for websites that rely heavily on social media traffic as they can help increase click-through rates and engagement. Additionally, by specifying the correct Open Graph tags, web developers can ensure that their content is presented in the best possible way on social media, which can help build brand awareness and drive more traffic to the website.
Deprecated Meta Tags
We’ve come a long way since the days of meta keyword stuffing and other SEO tricks. Search engines have now become smart enough to figure out much of this on their own. So let’s take a minute to recognize a few of these retired tags for what they once were.
- Keywords Tag: While the keyword tag used to be an important meta tag for SEO, it is no longer as relevant. This tag was used in the past to include a list of relevant keywords for a page. However, due to spamming and abuse, most search engines no longer consider this tag. Search engines have become more sophisticated and can determine the main keywords for a page based on its content. However, you might still choose to include a few relevant keywords in the keyword tag, as it can still be used by some smaller search engines or directories.
- Revisit-after Tag: This tag was used to inform search engines when to revisit a page for indexing. However, it is no longer relevant, as search engines now use their own algorithms to determine how often to crawl a page.
- Author and Copyright Tags: These tags were used in the past to identify the author and copyright holder of a page. However, they do not have any SEO value.
- Distribution Tag: The distribution meta tag is used to tell search engines where your website is distributed. This tag is no longer necessary, as search engines can find your website through other means.
- Rating Tag: The rating meta tag was once used to specify the quality rating of the page, but is no longer used by Google and other major search engines.
It’s worth noting that while some meta tags may no longer be relevant for SEO, they may still have other uses, such as providing information to users or other applications.
While there are many meta tags available, only a few are still relevant for SEO. By focusing on the title tag, description tag, and a few others, web developers can ensure that their web pages are optimized for search engines and social media sharing.