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Insights

Website Meta Tags Guide for SEO Practitioners

SEO

13/07/2023

27

Website meta tags definition

Website meta tags are HTML elements that provide concise information about a webpage’s content. They play a crucial role in search engine optimization by helping search engines understand and categorize your website accurately.

Examples of meta tags include the title tag, meta description, viewport meta tag, meta refresh redirect, etc. Each serves a specific purpose in optimizing the visibility, user experience, and social sharing of your webpages.

meta tags for website

Website meta tags definition and types

Why are website meta tags important for SEO?

Website meta tags offer several significant benefits for SEO.

Firstly, they provide a concise summary of a webpage’s content to search engines, enabling better understanding and accurate indexing. This improves the chances of appearing in relevant search results.

Secondly, well-crafted meta tags, particularly title tags and meta descriptions, can significantly impact click-through rates. A compelling title tag grabs attention, while a persuasive meta description entices users to click on your webpage over others.

Moreover, optimizing meta tags with relevant keywords helps search engines understand the relevance of your content to user queries. This can positively influence search engine rankings and increase organic traffic to your website.

Lastly, meta tags allow you to have control over how your web pages are displayed in search results. Crafting website meta tags can help you dictate the first impression of your webpage and increase click-through rate.

Common website meta tags and best practices

Website meta tags influence many aspects of your websites. It is important to understand how important they are, their best practices, and common mistakes to avoid. Here are six of the most popular meta tags and basic information about them:

meta tags for website

Meta title tags are one of the common types

Meta title

A meta title, also known as a title tag, is an HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage.

Importance

These website meta tags are crucial for SEO and user experience as the clickable headline in search engine results. A well-crafted meta title summarizes the content of the webpage with relevant keywords, enticing users to visit the page.

It plays a significant role in improving search engine rankings, click-through rates, and overall visibility of the webpage.

Common mistakes

  • Lengthy or short titles: Using excessively long meta titles can potentially omit crucial information and diminish click-through rates. Conversely, short titles may not be enough to get your point across.
  • Irrelevant or misleading titles: Crafting titles that are not aligned with the actual content of the webpage can lead to a poor user experience. 
  • Keyword stuffing: Overloading meta titles with excessive keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings is a common mistake. Not only does it make titles appear unnatural, but it can also lead to penalties from search engines.
  • Duplicate titles: Using the same meta title across multiple pages can confuse search engines and dilute the uniqueness of each page.
  • Ignoring brand identity: Not including your brand name or branding elements in the meta title can hinder brand recognition.
  • Neglecting updates: Failing to review and update meta titles periodically can result in outdated or irrelevant information.

Best practices

Here are some tips to optimize these website meta tags:

  • Be concise and descriptive: Keep it under 60 characters to ensure it displays fully in search results. Make it descriptive and accurately reflect the content of the webpage.
  • Incorporate relevant keywords: Include relevant keywords in the meta title tag to improve search engine visibility and indicate the relevance of your webpage.
  • Place important keywords at the beginning: Include your primary keywords near the beginning of the meta title tag to maximize their impact.
  • Maintain uniqueness: Each page should have a unique meta title tag to differentiate it from other pages on your website.
  • Write for users, not just search engines: Make sure the meta title tag also appeals to users instead of stuffing it with keywords.
  • Test and analyze performance: Experiment with different variations, test their impact on click-through rates, and make adjustments as necessary to improve results.

Meta description

A meta description is a brief summary or snippet of text that appears below the title tag in search engine results. It is one of the most prominent website meta tags alongside meta titles.

meta tags for website

Meta description has the job of attracting users to click

Importance

It serves as a sales pitch of the webpage’s content, providing users with a glimpse of what they can expect. An effective meta description includes relevant keywords and arouses curiosity to entice users to click and visit the webpage.

Common mistakes

  • Lengthy or truncated meta descriptions: Meta descriptions should ideally be between 50-160 characters. Exceeding this limit may result in truncation, leading to an incomplete or confusing description.
  • Duplicate or irrelevant meta descriptions: These can confuse search engines and users, impacting click-through rates and SEO performance.
  • Keyword stuffing: It not only looks unnatural but can also harm SEO efforts and user experience.
  • Missing meta descriptions: This can reduce the chances of attracting clicks and impact SEO visibility.
  • Neglecting updates: Failure to keep them up to date may lead to outdated or inaccurate information being displayed in search results.

Meta descriptions are extremely important website meta tags. It is essential that you avoid these common mistakes and follow the best practices to optimize them properly.

Best practices

  • Concise and compelling: Keep meta descriptions between 50-160 characters, and make them compelling to entice users to click on your webpage.
  • Relevant and descriptive: Ensure that the meta description accurately reflects the content of the webpage. Use relevant keywords that align with user search queries to improve visibility and relevance.
  • Unique for each page: Craft unique meta descriptions for each page to provide specific information about the content users can expect to find.
  • Call-to-action (CTA): Include a clear and enticing call-to-action within the meta description to prompt users to take the desired action. The common ones are “Learn more,” “Discover,” and “Get started.”
  • Avoid keyword stuffing: Focus on creating a coherent and natural-sounding description that appeals to users.
  • Review and update regularly: Periodically review and update meta descriptions to align with changes in your webpage content.

Meta robots

Meta robots deal directly with search engines. They are a type of website meta tag that provides instructions to search engine crawlers on how to handle a webpage.

meta tags for website

Meta robots allows search engines to crawl your pages

Importance

These website meta tags can be used to control aspects such as indexing, following links, and displaying snippets. By using the meta robots tag, webmasters can guide search engines on how to interact with their content.

Common mistakes

Missing or incorrect meta robots tag: This can lead to search engines indexing and following links that should be blocked or vice versa.

Noindexing important pages: Incorrectly applying the “noindex” directive to critical pages can result in those pages not appearing in search engine results. 

Indexing duplicate or low-quality content: This can result in search engines indexing and potentially penalizing the website for thin or duplicated content.

Blocking CSS and JavaScript files: This can hinder search engine bots from understanding and rendering the webpage correctly.

Forgetting to update directives: Regularly review and update the directives to ensure they align with the current website structure and content.

Best practices

Stick to these best practices to unlock the potential of these website meta tags:

  • Include a meta robots tag on important pages: Ensure that critical pages, such as the homepage, main landing pages, and important content-rich pages, have appropriate meta robots tags to control indexing and crawling behavior effectively.
  • Combine directives for specific requirements: You can combine different directives, such as “noindex, nofollow” to meet specific requirements for certain pages. Just ensure that you understand the implications of each directive.
  • Regularly review and update meta robots tags: Periodically review and update the meta robots tags to align with any changes in content or page requirements.

Meta refresh redirect

Meta refresh redirect is a method used to automatically redirect visitors from one webpage to another after a time interval. 

meta tags for website

Use meta refresh redirect in moderate fashion

Importance

It involves placing website meta tags with the “refresh” attribute in the HTML head section of a webpage. When the page loads, the browser reads this tag and redirects the user to the designated URL.

This technique should be used judiciously, as excessive or improper usage may negatively impact user experience and SEO.

Common mistakes

Common mistakes related to meta refresh redirects include:

  • Excessive use: Redirecting users too frequently can frustrate them and potentially lead to high bounce rates.
  • Lack of alternative methods: Relying solely on meta refresh redirects can result in search engine crawlers not being able to properly index your web pages.
  • Short refresh intervals: Setting a refresh interval that is too short can lead to an annoying and disruptive browsing experience for users.
  • Not utilizing HTTP redirects: In cases where permanent or temporary redirects are more appropriate, utilizing HTTP redirects is recommended for better SEO practices.
  • Lack of clear indication: Failing to provide clear indications to users that a redirect is occurring can confuse and frustrate them.

Best practices

Follow these best practices while using these website meta tags to ensure the best performances:

  • Set an appropriate delay: A delay of a few seconds (e.g., 3-5 seconds) gives users enough time to read any important messages.
  • Use 301 redirect instead: For temporary redirects, use a 302 status code, and for permanent redirects, use a 301 status code. This helps search engines understand the intent of the redirect.
  • Limit the use of meta refresh: Avoid excessive use of meta refresh redirects as search engines may view it as a deceptive or manipulative practice.

Meta charset

The meta charset tag is a crucial meta tag used in the HTML head section of a webpage.

meta tags for website

Meta charset can affect the display of texts on the site

Importance

These website meta tags specify the character encoding, ensuring that the browser interprets and displays the text correctly. Commonly used character encodings include UTF-8 (Unicode) and ISO-8859-1 (the Latin alphabet).

Properly defining the character encoding with the meta charset tag helps prevent issues like garbled text or character rendering errors.

Common mistakes

  • Omitting the meta charset tag altogether: Not including the meta charset tag can lead to encoding issues on the webpage.
  • Incorrectly specifying the character encoding: Using the wrong character encoding declaration can cause display problems and affect the interpretation of special characters.
  • Placing the meta charset tag in the wrong location: The meta charset tag should be placed within the head section of the HTML document to ensure proper interpretation.
  • Using multiple conflicting meta charset tags: Including more than one meta charset tag can lead to conflicts and unpredictable rendering of characters.
  • Not testing and validating the character encoding: This may result in inconsistent display or encoding issues that go unnoticed.

Best practices

Here are some best practices for these important website meta tags:

  • Specify the character encoding: Always include the meta charset tag in the head section of your HTML document and specify the character encoding.
  • Place it as early as possible: Ensure that the meta charset tag is placed near the top of your HTML document, preferably the first few lines. This helps the browser interpret the character encoding correctly from the beginning.
  • Use consistent character encoding: Maintain consistency throughout your website by using the same character encoding across all pages.
  • Validate your HTML: Use HTML validation tools to ensure that your meta charset tag is correctly implemented.
  • Test across different browsers and devices: Ensure that the specified character encoding is being interpreted correctly and the text appears as intended.

Meta viewport

Last but not least, meta viewport are website meta tags that are specifically used for optimizing the display of web pages on mobile devices.

meta tags for website

Meta viewport is in charge of the display on other devices

Importance

It allows web developers to control the viewport’s dimensions and scaling behavior, ensuring that the webpage renders correctly and is easily readable across various mobile devices and screen sizes.

The meta viewport tag is essential for creating responsive and mobile-friendly designs, enhancing the user experience on other platforms.

Common mistakes

Here are a few common mistakes related to the meta viewport:

  • Not including the meta viewport tag: Failing to include the meta viewport tag altogether can result in improper scaling and display of web pages on other devices.
  • Incorrect viewport values: This can cause issues with the responsiveness and readability of the webpage on different mobile devices.
  • Overriding user zoom: This restricts their ability to adjust the page to their preferences.
  • Inconsistent viewport settings: Using different viewport settings across different pages of a website can lead to inconsistencies, causing confusion and potential usability issues.
  • Neglecting to test on various devices: Failing to test how web pages render on a variety of mobile devices with different screen sizes and resolutions can result in overlooked display issues, ultimately affecting user satisfaction and engagement.

Best practices

Here are some best practices for using these website meta tags effectively:

  • Include the meta viewport tag: Always include the meta viewport tag in the head section of your web page to ensure proper mobile optimization.
  • Specify the viewport width: Set the “width=device-width” attribute to ensure that the viewport width matches the device’s screen width.
  • Define initial scale: A value of 1.0 ensures that the content is displayed at its original size without any zooming.
  • Allow user scaling: Avoid disabling user scaling by setting “user-scalable=yes” or omitting the “user-scalable” attribute.
  • Consider minimum-scale and maximum-scale: Specify minimum and maximum scale values using the “minimum-scale” and “maximum-scale” attributes. This can help maintain the readability and usability of the page across different screen sizes.
  • Test across devices: Always test your web page on various devices with different screen sizes and resolutions to ensure that the layout and content are properly displayed.
  • Use responsive design techniques: Combine the meta viewport tag with responsive design principles to create a flexible layout that adjusts smoothly across different devices.

Related insights: There are many types of website content that you need to note.

Final thoughts

Website meta tags wield significant influence in the realm of SEO. From title tags to meta descriptions and meta robots, each tag plays a crucial role in improving search engine rankings, click-through rates, and overall visibility.

By carefully crafting meta tags, webmasters can optimize their web pages for better indexing, user engagement, and organic traffic. Embracing the power of website meta tags empowers websites to capture the attention of both search engines and users alike.

Trying to figure out how this complicated digital world works? Worry not, as On Digitals can help guide you through it with our SEO services and more. Contact On Digitals to get started on your next campaigns.


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