If you’ve worked in the HTML code of your website, you may have seen meta tags on your pages and wondered, “Are meta tags important?”
After all, typing out HTML code by hand can be time-consuming and any code that doesn’t directly contribute to your website’s success might not be worth putting in (at least in your mind).
Even if you don’t typically work in HTML code, knowing how to use meta tags and what they do is important for your website.
Read on to see what you need to know about meta tags!
What are meta tags?
Picture this: it’s a Saturday, it’s raining, and you’ve decided to finally start reading that book you picked up at the bookstore last week.
You sit down on your chair and open up the book, and like most people, you skip past the first few pages of the book that contain the title page, the publisher information, and other pages with roman numerals on them to find the “real” page 1 of the story.
Those first ten pages you skipped are the meta tags of books!
Similar to how those pages of the book contain information on the content of the book, the publisher, and other important details, meta tags simply contain information about a website and/or webpage.
They are not visible in the displayed content, but they are visible if you look at the code of the page.
Which meta tags are the most important?
There is a litany of meta tags to choose from to use on your site. However, there are a few that carry a lot of weight and are must-haves. Here are a few you should definitely use:
- Title Tag – A lot of people don’t realize that a title tag is a form of a meta tag. The aptly named title tag is simply the title of the page and usually appears in the tab of the browser window as well as a search engine result. This tag will contain vital keywords for your content and is extremely important because search engines use it to help determine if your page is relevant to a given query.
- Description – The meta description is not a ranking factor in the same way the title tag is, but it is important in convincing users to click through to your site. The meta description is the short description that appears underneath the title tag in a search engine result. It should briefly and effectively convey why your content will give the user the information they need. You can think of it as the “elevator pitch” for your content.
- Robots – The meta robots tag is a directive for search engine bots that tells them what they should do with the webpage. For example, if the meta robots tag contains “index” and “follow” directives, the bot will index the page and give credit to the websites that were linked to in the content. The opposite would be “noindex and nofollow” directives, which would prevent the bot from indexing the page and giving credit to the websites the content is linked to.
You can read more about meta tags, and specifically meta descriptions, here.
What other meta tags are there?
There are plenty more meta tags beyond the ones we’ve mentioned above, however, the rest of the basic meta tags will not contribute to the success of your website in the same way. There are other meta tags called OpenGraph meta tags that can be used to help share your web content on social media, particularly Facebook. Let’s take a look at the most important OpenGraph tags:
- og:title – This is pretty similar to the title tag of a website, and carries obvious weight in helping users decide if your content is relevant to what they are looking for when browsing social media.
- og:image – This will contain a link to an image you’d like to use as a thumbnail for the content
- og:description – this is similar to the meta description of a web page. This will be a short preview or explanation of the content to help the user decide if they might be interested in reading it.
Here is a picture of a basic Facebook link to help you visualize how these tags populate:
Get More Website Guidelines for Meta Tags
Understanding how to use meta tags, which ones are right for your page, and where they should be added in the code can be tough to decipher.
Each web page is different and is going to require a custom solution for the meta tags. If you need help coming up with a custom solution for your website, we can help!
We are a full-service digital marketing agency, and we’ve developed many custom solutions to our client’s websites that produced amazing results for them. Fill out our contact form today to get help from one of our web experts!