You probably know about meta tags; some of them are quite important for on-page SEO. These meta tags are used to provide some important information about your site to search engines. For instance, the meta description tag is used to provide a description of your page that appears on a search engine’s results. In this article, you will get an introduction to all the important meta tags used to improve your site’s SEO.
There are more meta tags out there than you probably know. Generic meta tags, such as description, keywords, title, etc., apply to a page, and there are tags for specific purposes, such as copyright, language, robots, googlebot, etc. Many of the meta tags do not have any SEO effect as such.
Meta tags are usually included in the “head” section of a HTML page. They usually do not display the contained information on a browser window. Hence, in order to see the information contained in a meta tag, you will have to look at the source code of the HTML page.
1. The Title Tag
The title tag is one of the most important elements within a page. The title tag differs from the general format of a meta tag. However, it is generally regarded as part of the meta family. You can use this tag to specify the title of your page, and this title appears on your SERP listing. Since it provides the primary topic of your page, the title has to be well-written and keyword-rich. The title should be limited to around 70 characters and should not be stuffed with keywords for the best results. Here is the format of the title tag.
2. Meta Description
When it comes to web search, you get a tiny description of a page when it appears on search results. Where does this description come from? The meta description tag within a page provides the necessary description to a search bot, which indexes the description for future use. Most of the search engines also tweak the description that appears on the SERP to include an instance of the search keyword. In SEO, the description tag is very important, and hence it should contain the necessary keywords. Here is the format of the meta description tag.
When it comes to search bots, the Robots tag is one of the most important. It controls whether a search bot indexes your web page and follows the links contained in it. Here is the format of the Robots tag.
The content part of the tag can include index, noindex, follow, or nofollow. If a page does not include the Robots tag, the search bot indexes the page and follows all the links contained in it. On the other hand, if you use noindex, the page is not indexed; nofollow attribute ensures that none of the links contained in the page is followed. In essence, nofollow Robots meta tag makes every link within that page a nofollow link. Just as the robots.txt file contained at the root of a web page, Robots meta tag should be used very carefully.
If you want to limit the way a search bot crawls your site, you can use the revisit-after meta tag. The format of this tag is shown below.
The content part can include phrases like “3 days,” “12 days,” “1 month,” etc. The tag can be added to any page within your site. With this tag, you can tell a search bot to revisit your page after the specified time and re-index the page. This is useful if you are making any important changes to your website that take some time.
5. Googlebot Meta
This meta tag is specific for Googlebot. The meta tag is used to do a few things, such as avoiding ODP description, avoiding archiving, removing from Google index, etc. The format is shown below.
The content can be any of these:
- noodp: to refrain from using the Dmoz.org (Open Directory Project) description of your page in SERP
- noarchive: to stop Googlebot from caching the content
- noindex: to avoid indexing of the page in Google
- nosnippet: to prevent Google from showing content excerpt from the page
- nofollow: to avoid Googlebot from following any links within the page
HTTP-equiv is an attribute within a meta tag that can include some specific information about a page. It is used generally to emulate the HTTP header of the page. For instance, here is a HTTP-equiv tag for document expiry.
This tag can be used to provide the content type, character set, directive to stop web page caching, page refresh, cookie-setting, etc. Certain parameters used in this attribute may be important for SEO.
7. Authorship Tag
The authorship program is something Google has recently started. It helps tie your articles to your name despite the websites that publish them. Hence, you can publish your article on any website and still make it your own. The authorship tag is not a regular meta tag, but a link tag as shown below.
This appears at the top of the page in the “head” section along with other meta tags. Google provides the data of how your articles perform in search through Google Webmaster Tools.
8. Keywords Tag
The meta keywords tag can be included in your page to contain the keywords that aptly describe your page. For quite a while, Google and many other search engines used to value the keywords tag to find out the keywords that describe a page. Many webmasters took advantage of this and started stuffing the keywords tag to get an unfair advantage in SEO. Hence, these days, the keywords tag is more or less ignored by Google and many other search engines. Still, you can include it in your pages. The following is the format.
These are the most important meta tags that can be included in a web page. However, there are a number of other tags that are either specific to a service or a search engine. Those tags have less or no value in the SEO aspect of a website.