Are Meta Tags Important For Search Engines?

In the search engine optimization community, meta tags are regarded as a must-have for all web pages. Granted, meta tags cannot not guarantee a high position in search engine results pages. However, they do give you considerable control over how your website is displayed. And if necessary, they enable you to prevent your website from being indexed at all.

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are invisible HTML elements which reside in the header of a web page. Their main functions are to help search engines categorize a web page in terms of language, content, and author.

They all follow the same basic form. As shown below, the meta tag has two attributes: name and content.

<meta name="tag name" content="tag content" />

Which Meta Tags Should You Use?

There are many different meta tags to choose from, however, not all of them are important. Below we’ve listed a few types of meta tags which will have an big effect on your website, both in terms of your placement in search engine results pages and click through rate.

Description

The description meta tag is one of the most important tags. With this, you can control what description is shown to users when they search for your website. And by having unique compelling descriptions, you can improve your click through rate.

To use this tag, follow the example below.

<meta name="description" content="This is your description. For maximum compatibility with search engines, it should not exceed 150 characters."/>

Robots

Meta tags can also enable you to control whether or not search engines index a particular page of your website. This is done via the robots tag. And this tag is not required, as in its absense, your website will be indexed.

<meta name="robots" content="index, follow"/>

This tag takes specific values for the content attribute. Some other values are listed below:

  • noindex: Prevents a the page from being indexed.
  • nofollow: Prevents any links on the page from being crawled.
  • nosnippet: Prevents any snippet of the page from being displayed on search results pages.
  • noarchive: Prevents pages from being cached. 

Content Type

The content type is another important meta tag. And as your will see, the format is a bit different than the previous two meta tags. The role of this tag is to define the content type and character set of the page.

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>

Keywords

Believe it or not, this tag is not as important as most people think that it is. In the past, websites could list keywords that they wanted users to be able to find them with. However, many spammers exploited this feature by setting keywords which had nothing to do with the subject matter of their websites.

Consequently, Google along with various other search engines devalued this meta tag. And now, this tag no longer has significant weight with any of the prominent search engines.

Even so, we do suggest that this tag be used. There are still a variety of meta search engines that do continue to classify websites via the meta keywords.

<meta name="keywords" content="keyword-1, keyword-2, keyword-3, keyword4, etc..."/>

Title Tag

In addition to the above tags, the title tag — which is not actually a meta tag — is another tag that you should use. This tag generally shows up above your page description in search engine results. Combined with the description meta tag, these two tags enable you to draw visitors to your website. Be sure to make them descriptive and relevant. A usage example is given below:

<title>Velvet Blues Web Design</title>

 

Of course, there are many other meta tags that you can use. However, they have minimal importance when compared to the description and title tags. As stated above, both of these tags are used by search engines and show up on search engine results pages. The result? Your website has increased search engine visibility and your click through rate will improve.

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