Why Meta Matters

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 31 May 2018 by Jaison Dobbs
Search Engines | SEO

Meta tags are the bits of text that tell the user what is contained in a page’s content. They don’t appear on the page itself, but they’re contained in the page’s code. Meta tags are a bit like hashtags on social media; they help search engines identify what a web page is about and decide whether the page should rank for a certain search term. The only difference between these tags and hashtags is the location; meta tags can’t be seen and only exist in HTML (usually in the “head” of the page), so they are only visible to search engines.

Make your first impressions count. Organic traffic is the holy grail of SEO, everybody wants it, but how can it be found? The answer is meta; your meta tags, titles and descriptions can open up a whole new world of traffic if done right. Keep in mind that they are what is going to sell your brand, product or service to new consumers, so making them attractive enough to draw people in is something to think about. You only get a limited amount of space to sell it in; it’s crucial that you get it right to draw in your audience.

Title Tags

Although they’re not technically meta tags, they show up in the header are used as one. This is what should initially catch your audience’s eye, best practice for this is to make it short and attention-grabbing. You should also include your main keywords here to help you rank for the search terms you want to appear in. Although the character limit for the title on mobile devices is 78 and 70 on a desktop, it’s generally recommended to stick to a 60 character limit. Be relevant; it’s all well and good having a catchy title that draws people in, but if it isn’t relevant to your web page then they aren’t going to stay on the page for long, and they probably won’t come back.

Image Tags

As with the title tags, image tags aren’t called “meta tags”. However, they are used by search engines and the likes to identify your website, and for the best experience, the alt and title tags for an image should be defined in your HTML code. Why are they important? Well, the alt text is the words that appear when you hover your cursor over it; it also displays when the image can’t be rendered. Another purpose for this is that it’s spoken by a computer that is being used by a blind or visually impaired user, allowing them to navigate around your website and identify what your product or service is and making your website more accessible for all users. Anywhere from 20-60% of all Google traffic goes to sites with well-optimised graphics, so it’s an important feature to remember when working on your SEO visibility.

Description Tags

Meta description tags offer a way for you to give an overview of the page’s content before the user clicks through. It appears under the title when your page appears in a search; this will help provide a better user experience and will encourage them to click-through to your page. These descriptions can be between 50-300 characters, however, a best practice is to keep them to a limit of 160 characters. It allows you to encompass what your page is about in a concise manner, and makes your content more searchable. Again it is important to make sure the description is relevant to the content of your page, providing a better user experience. Finally, it needs to be unique, duplicate content will not help with your search engine ranking, so creating individual meta descriptions should help with your efforts.

Points To Remember:

Title Tags

  • Stick to a 60 character limit
  • Be relevant
  • Include main keywords

Image Tags

  • Alt tags
  • Title tags
  • 20-60% of Google traffic goes to sites with well-optimised graphics
  • Improves accessibility for users

Description Tags

  • Provides an overview of page content
  • Be relevant
  • Stick to 160 characters
  • Make it unique

Meta tags are a basic part of HTML, the way we view content has changed with new technology and improvements in Digital Marketing, so search engines are incentivised to provide the best search results possible. Tags such as titles and description are more important than ever before, helping to provide the user with the best possible experience. Don’t forget metadata provides the first impression you’ll make to both robots and people, so it’s best to do it right.

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