META TAG

Definition & which are the most important for SEO

The SEO meta tag (Search Engine Optimization) is defined as portions of HTML language that provide important information about the website. They are a valuable tool that helps us give significance and relevance to a website’s content.

When searching on Google, the search engine provides a list of results, commonly called SERP (Search Engine Results Page), based on the search intent and keywords entered.

Through SEO metadata, used within the HTML language of a web page, it is possible to convey information that helps the content position itself within the SERP, readable by the search engine.

Continuing to read, you will have the opportunity to delve into the topic. In particular, you will read about:

  • what meta tags consist of
  • how to write meta tag keywords and where to insert them.

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Meta tags: what they are

But what is meant by meta tags? SEO meta tags are pieces of code inserted into an HTML website that communicate information to search engines about the content, for example, of the post you are writing on your blog. These pieces of information are also called SEO metadata and are useful to be read by search engines and web crawlers, but are not visible to readers.

So where do I find the meta tag? Before discussing it in more detail, it should be noted that for every web page that has a <head> tag indicating the header, i.e., the “head” of the page, there will be a <body> tag for the body of the text, and within it, there will be <p> tags to indicate paragraphs.

In reality, there is a wide variety of other tags that serve as instructions for both search engine algorithms and browsers, to encode the code into what we are accustomed to seeing online. Some of these HTML meta tags play a very important role in SEO, to have an optimized and well-positioned website.

Ultimately, what do meta tags serve? To truly understand the meaning of meta tags, it is necessary to observe Google, the best and most widely used search engine worldwide. Google uses a web crawler or spider, named Googlebot, which analyses the entire World Wide Web and creates a gigantic index, a real archive, of all its content.

The task of these bots is to understand what the main theme of a website is or, more generally, of any content on the web, to provide the most accurate possible response to user queries.

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Meta tags and SEO: how to insert them correctly

If you work in SEO, you must know the HTML meta tags very well. Those involved in search engine optimization create content for the web. So, they must have a full understanding of how the search engine reads and interprets content to ensure that it climbs the SERP and is easily found by users.

An important piece of advice I want to give you is to create HTML code as ”simple” as possible: all unnecessary meta tags must be eliminated to allow the search engine to correctly interpret your content and analyze and index it in the best possible way.

How to insert meta tags? To do this, you need to enter the HTML code within the <head> section, and their structure usually involves the use of two attributes:

  • the name attribute indicates the type of information contained by the tag
  • the content attribute indicates the content of the information.

Usually, one wonders how many meta tags can be inserted within the pages, which is why there is an official list of Google meta tags that can be consulted in its support area.

Up to now, I have shown you what they are and how to write a meta tag in HTML, but if you use WordPress, how can you insert them into the pages of the website?

Consider that WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create easily modifiable content, especially thanks to the use of various plugins. In this case, it would be ideal to use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, which allows you to edit various metadata effectively. Through Yoast SEO, you can insert title tags, robot tags, and meta descriptions on every web page simply and effectively.

meta data attributes

HTML meta tags: some of the most important meta tags

Understanding what impact meta tags and title tags have on the search engine is the best way to position your content among the top results in Google’s SERP.

But what do meta tags allow you to display within a page? Specifically, they allow you to control the scanning and indexing of content on search engines. In some cases, the description is displayed inside the snippet that can be viewed in the latter.

The usable meta tags are numerous, each with a specific purpose and utility. Useful in this regard are meta tag generators, which are functional for creating specific meta tags even for those who are not experts in HTML.

An example of a meta tag that could be generated is one for the automatic update of a page to automatically redirect the browser to another page after a certain interval. Below are the most used and important example meta tags.

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Title tag: a relevant factor for SEO

The title meta tag is a simple HTML tag that is often mentioned when talking about metadata. The title tag plays a fundamental role in search engine ranking and is one of the 200 ranking factors according to Google.

The title tag appears as the clickable title of a search result within the SERP. It can also be found at the top of the browser tab when hovered over and in the snippet in Google search results.

In addition to helping in ranking, the title tag tells what the page is about and indicates to the search engine what the topic is, so that it can categorize it as useful for returning it in search results. An example of a title meta tag is:

<title>Meta tags: what they are and how to use them | Digital Coach®<\\/title><\\/pre>

A good title tag will have the following characteristics:

html tags attributes

  • keyword inserted at the beginning of the title;
  • a length between 50 – 60 characters;
  • each page should have a unique title different from other pages;
  • it should be well-written to convince the user to enter the page;
  • it needs to align with the content on the page.

Don’t forget that you should never insert the company name before the keyword you are optimizing the page for because it will be very difficult for people to directly search for your name unless it is a famous company.

In any case, it is a good practice to insert the company name inside the title but at the end, as shown in the example at the beginning of this paragraph. Meta tags and title tags are important, but they are not the only ones. I will now show you the others to help you understand better.

Meta description: increase CTR

The meta tag description serves to describe the page to users, clearly illustrating what they will find inside. Unlike the title, the meta description, or meta description tag, is not a direct ranking factor and does not influence positioning; however, it is essential for CTR (Click-through rate). Indeed, it plays a very important role in convincing the user to click on your page when it appears in search results.

meta description definition

<meta name="description" content=" In this page, you will find guidelines on what meta tags are,
how to use them in HTML and WordPress, and which ones are the most important in 2020 for SEO ">

A clear and complete meta description will make users prefer one site over another, encouraging them to click. It doesn’t end here; there’s another feature to consider, namely length.

Search engines display a maximum of 160 characters; if you write more, the meta tag description will be automatically truncated, and the information will be incomplete for the user.

If you decide to leave the meta description blank, not entering the meta description tag, Google will extract it from your page’s content. This is why I recommend always writing a relevant meta description and leveraging the potential of this SEO meta tag, leaving nothing to chance.

Alternative Text Tag

Another SEO meta tag that deserves attention is the alternative text tag, a type of tag useful for allowing the search engine to read images on a website.

Every time you insert an image into text or anywhere on your website, you must always include this important meta tag, and now I’ll explain why.

It not only allows the search engine to describe the image but also its context. Thanks to the meta alt tag, the search engine can correctly interpret images and index them just like it does with your text.

To write a quality alt tag, you must not only describe what the image contains but also its purpose within the page. A common mistake is to confuse alt tags with image titles, which are portions of text displayed when you hover over an image. If you want to learn how to optimize images for SEO, I recommend reading this interesting article on how to optimize images.

Meta tag robots in HTML

<meta name="robots" content="Here the command goes" />

Not to be confused with robots.txt, the meta tag robot indicates to the crawler how to scan a site. The main commands are as follows:

  • noindex: do not index the page;
  • nofollow: do not follow the page’s link;
  • the default values are active (index and follow), and there is no need to specify them.

In addition to the attributes of the meta tag robots mentioned above, I propose a list of commands to consider and implement on the site or blog:

  • all: default value and no limit to indexing;
  • none: the same as noindex and nofollow;
  • noimageindex: do not index images;
  • noarchive: do not show “Copy cache” links in the SERP;
  • nosnippet: prevents snippet display in the SERP;
  • notranslate: do not propose page translation in the SERP.

 

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Viewport Tag for responsive images

The viewport meta tag, created by Apple, is used to resize the width of a page on the web based on the device with which you navigate. In simple terms, it helps make websites readable for mobile, preventing the user from having to zoom in on a page to read its content.

meta tag html

The best thing to do is to start with a responsive site, one that automatically adapts to the device’s size being used during online navigation, after which we can go ahead and insert the viewport tag.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width">

This way, it’s possible to set the viewport’s width to the device screen’s width (device-width). In addition to these, there are other parameters to use with this HTML tag:

  • height: sets the display height;
  • initial-scale: sets the initial zoom factor;
  • minimum-scale: indicates the minimum zoom threshold;
  • maximum-scale: indicates the maximum zoom threshold;
  • user-scalable: indicates whether the user can zoom.

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Meta tag keywords: still a useful SEO element?

How to write the meta tag keywords? To answer this question, it’s necessary to contextualize the situation for today’s times. The goal of this code instruction was to provide a list of keywords through which a page was supposed to rank in the SERP.

The meta tag keywords were always inserted in the <head> section of the site’s source code. In the past, using this instruction served to collect as much information as possible from the crawler about the content of a particular website.

Is its use still useful today? The answer is no. Even though this meta tag once had value in Google’s eyes, since 2009, it’s no longer the case.

This is because the meta tag keyword was used excessively and thoughtlessly, trying to position websites with keywords that did not reflect their content. To respond to user requests in a useful and precise way, Google is increasingly focusing on the quality of content.

In conclusion, this type of meta tag has almost completely lost its SEO value, although some lesser-known CMS, such as Algolia, continue to use meta tag keywords for internal site searches.

Conclusion

In conclusion, HTML SEO meta tags are essential elements in the world of web development, as they provide important information to search engines, browsers, and other platforms that interact with the content of web pages.

These tags allow developers to specify key details such as character encoding, page description, keywords, author, and more.

After explaining the meaning of meta tags, or metadata, what the main ones are, and their relationship with SEO, you undoubtedly have all the most important elements to start optimizing your website. Mastering metadata has never been so simple!

 

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