In today’s digital marketing landscape, optimising your website content for search engines is non-negotiable.
Every website is vying for that top spot on the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Let’s be honest, nobody clicks through to the second results page on Google.
But, the question here is: have you thought about optimising your meta tags? It is becoming increasingly crucial as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) continuously evolves.
Optimisation in this sense does not necessarily mean the use of keywords.
Keyword stuffing is an SEO tactic of the past and is heavily penalised by search engines as it can mislead the user and creates a user experience which is troublesome.
Content with keyword stuffing does not read well and serves very little purpose to the readers.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags, otherwise known as metadata tags, contain information about your website or page. They tell Google bots which crawl through millions, if not billions, of websites each and every day.
These bots decide on the relevance of your website in the context to what people are searching for online.
Meta tags have been a huge part of search engine history since the dawn of the internet era.
They were once valued as a top factor in SEO rankings – until people started exploiting meta tags to reach the top of the SERPs.
Shortly thereafter, Google decided to put its foot down on this bad practice, and took meta tags out of the ranking equation.
While meta tags aren’t quite as crucial as they used to be, they are still necessary in today’s online marketing world. In fact, meta tags still have a pretty big role to play when it comes to your business site’s SEO.
A meta tag is only visible in the HTML of your website and will not ever appear as the text on your page.
They are the texts that are buried within your code. But your visitors won’t be able to see them, unless they choose to do some digging of their own into your website’s code.
It is a ‘legitimate’ way of concealing words in your webpages for search engines.
Google can still read them for it to get a simple, summarised idea of what the content on your website is all about, and how relevant it is for search engine users.
Because meta tags lie within the code of the title of your page, they often end up being overlooked as marketers choose to optimise the actual content of the page instead.
The types of meta tags
There are numerous types of meta tags, but only some or worthy of your time and energy. For example, an author meta tag in the title of your page is not going to help you rank in any way.
And a refresh tag, which is meant to direct the bot back to a main page after a specific period has lapsed, is not used by any search engine worth noting, especially not Google.
According to Kate Morris, director of SEO for Craftsy, in her article on Moz, the types of meta tags worth paying the most attention to are: meta content type, title, meta description and viewport.
In Morris’ words “[The meta content type] tag is necessary to declare your character set for the page and should be present on every page. Leaving this out could impact how your page renders in the browser.”
A professional web designer should be aware of what content on your webpage is worth noting in the meta content type tag. Consult with them and see what’s most important to add to the HTML
The title of your page is the header and is crucial to optimisation as it shows the data which explains exactly what is on your page in the shortest possible way.
Your title need to be simple and to the point. You don’t want a wordy title, but rather a few words that highlight the most important aspect of your web page.
The meta description is incredibly important because it tells people what is on your page when it appears in the search results.
This matters because Google ranks authority according to the usefulness of your information to the reader.
If readers are opening your website because of false information in your meta description, you are going to have a higher bounce rate and a high bounce rate will not do your rankings any favours.
Your meta description takes the lead from your title and is essentially an explanation of the title and what information and content the page has available for your target audience.
We live in a mobile-first world, and that means Google will rank pages higher if they are optimised for mobile and offer a UX (User Experience) which is conducive to searching on a smartphone or smart device of any kind.
This means you need to focus on your viewport tag and be specific with information contained in it.
Benefits of using meta tags
Now that we have discussed what meta tags are and which ones matter the most when it comes to optimising your website, it is time to go through the benefits.
1. Meta tags provides relevancy
Meta tags show search engines how relevant your page is to the user’s query.
A query can be anything from “Thai restaurant near me” to “Benefits of jogging every morning”. As the information in the meta title tag indicates that the page is of interest to the user, the search engine will deliver it on its results page, depending on the authority of the page.
If you have a meta description tag and title which speaks directly to what the user is searching for, your rankings will improve as a byproduct of this.
The more your page is viewed by people who visit the page and the more the page is referenced on other online platforms, the more authority your page will have.
On the other hand, if people are drawn into reading your page and then leave the page because the meta title and description are misleading, this will increase the bounce rate and negatively affect your ranking on the SERPs.
2. You save time without writing too much
As meta tags are in the HTML of your website, they are not meant to be long copy.
They need to be short and sweet. You do not want excessive amounts of code on your website.
These are simple and to the point, whether you are writing a meta title or a meta description. These metadata are usually limited to a few words.
This is a benefit as you will not have to craft a lengthy message and have a copywriter create it over a long period of time. Meta tags should be minimal in length.
3. They optimise your site without making things untidy
Meta tags do not affect the actual, visible content of your website in any way.
This means that they do not take up space which could be used for selling products or services, encouraging social engagement or presenting ideas.
Unlike your standard website blog posts and articles, you don’t need to ‘strategically’ sprinkle keywords to help your page rank on Google.
All your metadata is added on the backend of your website. They don’t mess up any of your website’s design or content.
What it also means is that your readers will not have to read through the meta tags to find the content that they want.
This benefits you as there will not be a high bounce rate due to unnecessary content on the page itself.
4. They can be quickly implemented
There is no need for keyword research and strategy with constant updates on your search engine optimisation as there are no keywords for meta tags.
This means you’ll save time from carrying out long hours of keyword research just to know the ‘right’ keywords to add into your meta tags.
There used to be keywords available for use on Google, but they have since outlawed it thanks to people who mislead audiences by giving the wrong information in the meta tags to get a high click-through rate on their page.
While not being able to use keywords may seem to be a negative point at first glass, it is actually a positive.
Why? Because you do not have to update your SEO strategy as regularly as you would have to if you were using keywords. It also stops other websites from stealing your traffic by misleading searchers.
5. They allow you to track your metrics better
You want people who are looking for your website to find it, right?
Or, at least, you want people who are searching for the information your page offers to find it. This is one of the many benefits of meta tags.
In fact, some might argue this is the most important benefit for using meta tags.
It will ensure that all traffic to your website is legitimate and that the people who are looking for your content are the ones who find it, therefore lessening your bounce rate and increasing the authority of your website.
When you look at your Google Analytics, you want all data to be truthful and legit.
This way, you can work on your content and create a website that brings in traffic which is useful to your business.
When you do not make use of meta tags, you are giving up the opportunity to tell people (and search engines) exactly what is on your website before they click on it and then click out of it again.
At the end of the day, meta tags are an easy way to tweak your website to become more optimised for Google’s SEO.
After all, metadata is important to Google because they help to demostrate your website’s relevance, allowing Google to index your website properly in their search results.
As an on-page optimisation tactic, meta tags allow you to boost your SERPS, without relying on external factors for help.
Most people think that implementing meta tags is a highly technical affair reserved only for skilled web programmers.
This is not true. Implementing meta tags on your own isn’t difficult, it just takes a bit HTML knowledge, and also a little bit of your time.
If you are not optimising the meta tags on your website, you are not doing everything you can to increase your ranking on search engine results pages.
To learn more about how I can help you optimise your website, feel free to reach out to me using this contact page.
About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.