Using Meta Tags for SEO: Importance and Implementation
Are you trying to wrap your mind around meta tags and how they impact your website’s SEO?
By understanding what meta tags are, as well as how to use them effectively, you can significantly increase your web traffic.
In this guide, you will learn the importance of meta tags and how you can use them to improve your website’s SEO.
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What Are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are created by a computer language, known as HTML code.
The HTML code that is written communicates with search engines (i.e. Google) to display some of the main information from web pages.
Without meta tags, there wouldn’t be a protocol for how to list web page information on search engine result pages (SERPs).
And those who are looking for your website…
They would not have any way of knowing if your website is relevant to the information they are searching for online with meta tags.
In other words, meta tags are an essential part of your website if you want to be found on search engines like Google.
Meta Tags and SEO
Maybe you are wondering, “Why are meta tags necessary for Google?”
When you see your search results listed on Google, you expect to see…
- The URL (www.webpage.com)
…for each web page.
The information for each web page does not just appear magically – it’s displayed as a result of inserting hypertext markup language (HTML).
So, do meta tags help in SEO?
Yes, meta tags do help SEO but not all meta tags are created equally.
When you are intentional about crafting meta tags for SEO, there are two types that are the most important and that you should focus on.
What Meta Tags to Use For the Biggest SEO Impact
Although there are several types of meta tags, the most important meta tags for SEO are:
- The meta title
- The meta description
The remaining information in this guide will continue to focus on helping you to understand:
- What are meta titles and meta descriptions
- Why they are important for your website
- How to create these tags for SEO
Creating HTML meta tags for SEO can be time-consuming and even a little intimidating. Portland SEO Growth can help. Click here to learn more.
Meta Title: What is It?
The large, blue title that catches your eye when you see a list of web pages on the Google results page (as well as Yahoo, Bing, and Cake) is called a meta title.
It is a short line of text that informs readers of what they should expect to see on the web page if they decide to click and visit it.
Just like you read the cover of a book or the title of an article before you dive into reading it, a meta title serves the same purpose for web pages.
Typically, this is the first thing that you see when you see a web page listing on search engine results.
It is important to note that Google doesn’t always show the meta title but it will show some text or preview of the content.
Why Are Meta Titles Important?
Why does Google care about meta titles?
According to Google’s Search Console Help Center: “It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”
So, what does Google do with meta titles?
They automatically generate meta titles by detecting content that is embedded between the meta tags:
<title> Meta Title That Shows Up On Google </tile>
However, Google states that they “may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources” if there are issues with locating the HTML code for the web page.
To avoid issues, it is important to know how to create meta tags for your meta titles.
How to Create a Meta Title
If you are looking to improve your SEO, use the following five tips to create your meta titles:
- Aim to meet your readers’ relevant search intent
- Create a different title tag for each web page
- Draw attention with eye-catching titles
- Don’t use vague titles
- Be descriptive and concise
Consider using a plugin like Yoast SEO to help you better optimize your meta titles as a WordPress user.
If your website has been built on Squarespace, Kajbi, Wix, or Weebly, there are built-in SEO functionalities that you can utilize.
Lastly, if you have a hand-coded website, be sure your web developer is using meta title tags appropriately.
Should Meta Titles Utilize Keywords?
Yes, you should use keywords in your meta title.
Keywords are important in meta titles because they are one of the factors that tell Google what your web page is about.
However, remember that you are writing for your readers, not just Google.
If you want to be sure that your title is relevant for your readers and Google, try to use long-tail keywords in your meta titles.
How Long Should Meta Titles Be?
You should keep your meta titles no longer than 50-60 characters due to title tag truncation, which simply cuts off anything after 60.
If you want to be sure that your entire meta title will be seen and get a preview of what it will look like, consider using:
- The Free Pixel Width Checker Tool — by Search Wilderness
- The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
SEO Meta Titles: What to Avoid
Are there things you should avoid when drafting meta titles?
Yes, there are a few things to consider staying away from the following if you want to be sure your meta titles are SEO friendly, including:
- Duplicate title tags
- Keyword stuffing
- Using all caps
- Generic titles
Meta Description: What is It?
Google often uses the meta description as the snippet under the meta title on the search engine results page.
Meta descriptions are important because it helps readers preview the web page content before deciding to check it out.
After you see the meta title, it is natural to move your eyes down to read the meta description.
Just like with the meta title, Google doesn’t show the meta description you always want to display — sometimes it will pull content from your web page as the snippet.
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
Why does Google care about meta descriptions?
Google shares on its Search Console Help Center that meta descriptions “are like a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
What does Google do with meta descriptions?
They automatically generate snippets from the web page content.
There are two main ways that this can be done:
- By detecting content that is embedded in the following HTML code:
<meta name= “description” content= “Insert the meta description text here”>
- By adding structured data to your website called rich-text, most commonly through WordPress plugins
To ensure that your meta descriptions will do you more harm than good, keep reading to learn how to create meta descriptions for your SERP snippets.
How to Create a Meta Description
If you are looking to best optimize your snippets on search engines, use the following five tips to create your meta descriptions:
- Summarize web page content accurately
- Use unique snippets for each web page
- Meet the user’s relevant search intent
- Write in sentence case, not title case
- Create quality descriptions
Use the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress to help you craft your meta descriptions.
If you use Squarespace, Kajbi, Wix, or Weebly, there are built-in meta description fields that you can fill out.
Finally, if you have a custom-coded website, check to ensure your web developer can use HTML to create meta description tags properly.
Should Meta Descriptions Utilize Keywords?
You should use keywords in your meta descriptions – not for SEO, but for your readers.
Google explains that although meta tags are useful for displaying snippets, “we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.”
In other words, keywords are not important in meta descriptions for SEO, but it does help your readers to understand what your web page content is about.
How Long Should Meta Descriptions Be?
There is no limit to how long your SEO meta tag description can be.
However, you should keep in mind that meta descriptions which are displayed as the web page snippets, are truncated depending on the width of the device.
Typically, it is a good idea to keep your meta descriptions under 160 characters.
You can use the Yoast Plugin or SERPism to preview your meta description.
However, if you want to be confident that your meta description that is displayed as a snippet is best optimized…
Portland SEO Growth can help. Learn more here.
SEO Meta Descriptions: What to Avoid
Are there things you should avoid when drafting meta descriptions?
You should stay away from the following when crafting your SEO meta descriptions:
- Crafting clickbait that does not truly reflect the page content
- Duplicate meta descriptions across various pages
- Writing descriptions that are too long or too short
- Tagging multiple meta descriptions on one page
- Generic descriptions as snippets
Custom Meta Tags for SEO: Portland SEO Growth
Our professional team at Portland SEO Growth is confident that we have what it takes to leverage SEO meta tags for your website.
You can be assured that our SEO specialists can help you grow your website traffic and rank higher on Google.
We are committed to doing all that is necessary to optimize your website with the following:
- Implementing an SEO-focused strategy
- Executing effective keyword research
- Managing the technical aspects of on-page SEO
…and so much more.
Now you have an important decision to make.
What will you choose for your business?
- Attempt to implement the information in this guide and go back to ensure that all of your meta tags are crafted for SEO (which takes more time than you most likely have),
- Or entrust the work to our professional SEO team at Portland SEO Growth so that you can be 100% confident you have a well-executed SEO meta tag strategy.
Portland SEO Growth is here to help your website rank better on Google with our proven experience.
We can help your business gain more visibility online. Visit our website and learn more about Portland SEO Growth and how we can help your business here.