What are Meta Tags?

March 20, 2019

We already know how incredibly important SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is for your website to rank high on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). There are many ways to optimise SEO - great content, keywords, the list goes on, but one essential method is to use Meta Tags. If you have not developed a website before then this may be a new term to you, so what on earth are Meta Tags and how do you use them?

In a nutshell, Meta Tags tell search engines such as Google, what your web page is about. They are short excerpts of text which are included in the code of the web page. This text is not visible on the web page itself, it hides behind the scenes. Consequently, these descriptive keywords are not seen by visitors but they are picked up by search engines. The end result is that Meta Tags enable search engines to categorise and surface your content for the correct search terms, and this is how we get various rankings on SERPs.

Let’s take a look at some of the common meta tags you should include on your web pages:

1. Title tags

These are shown on the search engine results page and they inform visitors what your content is about. You should have a unique title on every web page, if you don’t then Google will create on for you and this may harm your SEO ranking.

2. Meta description tags

These are found under the title in SERPs and they provide a summary of the web page to the visitor. Although Google no longer uses Meta description as a ranking signal, it is still a valuable tool as it encourages web users to click through to your web page

3. Canonical tags

These are used if you have a single page with multiple URLs or different pages that have the same content such as mobile and desktops versions. Search engines will see these as duplicate pages so you have to tell the search engine the URL which is the main web page. By using canonical tags, you are telling the search engine which pages you want it to display in SERPs and to disregard other similar content from your web pages.

4. Robots meta tags

These tags provide instructions to web crawlers, instructing them to index a web page or not. You can instruct a web crawler to do one of four things:

5. Alternative text (Alt) Tag

These tags are used for images, as search engine cannot read them, they need to have Alt text to so that they can be read and ranked accordingly. It is important that the text clearly and concisely describes the image in 50-55 characters.

If you have any questions on this blog post please contact the 2xN team by clicking here.

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