Understanding How Meta Tags Impact Your SEO

Understanding How Meta Tags Impact Your SEO

If you are familiar with the state of marketing today, you know how important it is to have a strong search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. When your website is at or the top of a search engine results page (SERP) it can translate into sales. So you strive to be in that top SERP position, but do you really understand what it takes to get there? Sure, you know about keywords and content, but do you know about meta tags? If you don’t, it is essential to understand if you plan on managing your own SEO campaign. Even if you don’t plan on adjusting your meta tags yourself, you need to be able to ask your company’s IT department or an outside contractor if your meta tags have been optimized for SEO.

What are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are brief pieces of text that are embedded in a web page’s hypertext markup language (HTML). They describe the content found on a webpage so that search engines can understand what is on your page. Meta tags are not visible when you look at a page in an internet browser; they are strictly there for identification purposes.

Why do Meta Tags Matter for SEO?

Although meta tags are not visible, they say a lot about your web page. What you say in the meta tags can be the difference between being on the fifth search engine results page and the first or second. Meta tags are able to be optimized so that your website stands out in search results.

Title Tag

A title tag, in short, is the title of the page and a brief description of the page in your HTML code. This area is a place that you can add relevant keywords to enhance your SEO. Be sure not to use too many keywords because it will be seen by search engines as keyword packing and won’t make sense to those reading the description on a search result page; both will result in your page not being clicked on. Don’t use over 55 characters, so it needs to be both clear and concise. The reason for the brevity is that it not only shows up in search engine results, but it will also be the description seen if someone shares your site on social media.

Meta Description

A meta description is a lengthier description of your web page embedded in the HTML. The optimum word count for a meta description is between 150 and 160 characters long. You should use meta descriptions to give accurate information about your website. As with the title tag, don’t keyword pack and keep the description relevant but brief.

If you use WordPress, meta descriptions are not automatically added to your code, but there are plugins available to assist with adding the meta description.

Should You Attempt to Improve Your SEO Through Meta Tags?

If you are savvy enough with HTML, then you can make changes to your meta tags with caution. Be sure to double-check your work after adding meta tags, even if you have experience with HTML. If HTML is not one of your strengths, then it is best to leave the work to professionals who have experience working with SEO. They can adjust your meta tags for you in order to improve your SEO, as well as perform a number of things that can improve your overall SEO.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of if you are comfortable with HTML or are frightened by looking at a keyboard, using meta tags to improve your SEO can give you an edge over your competition and bring more potential customers to your website.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.