The Importance of Meta Tags
Meta tags are the descriptive sentences that give search engines an idea of what your website or content is about. Meta tags are not usually outright present in the content, so users do not see them. Without proper meta tags, your website’s ranking and listings will suffer. Essentially, you want to give Google as much information as possible about your website or page so that it can be properly indexed. If there are inaccuracies (or worse, blank tags), your page’s performance will suffer and you won’t see any traffic. Read on to learn more about meta tags and why they’re important to use when creating web content.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are the short descriptions that are present on web pages to give information to search engines. They provide key details about the page to help it rank and appear in searches. Without meta tags, the search engine will be blindly perusing the content of the page. It’s very important to pay attention to meta tags and to use them as properly as possible. They’re a key part of SEO and can help correctly index and categorize your web pages.
What meta tags should I use?
There are a number of meta tags that you can use on your website and content. Some are more important than others.
The title tag, or H1, is the title of the page. It tells users exactly what they will find within. It’s good practice to have a keyword present, but it isn’t completely necessary. Your title should not be too long, either, as only a limited number of characters will be visible on searches.
Write a sufficient title so that searchers and viewers will have no questions about the content of the page.
The meta description allows you to go into further detail as you describe the piece of content. It is a short summary of the page and is what is present on search bars. If you leave the meta description blank, Google will automatically pull from the first words of the page, which may drastically hurt traffic.
In search results, you can see when a query is directly answered if it is bolded on the page. Therefore, a meta description that has a relevant keyword is more likely to rank higher than one without a relevant keyword. The keyword or keyphrase will be bolded.
It’s important to be concise with your meta description, but not short enough that users will wonder just what your content addresses.
Alt text is unique in that it is applicable to images. In the event your image does not load, the alt text will be displayed instead. Therefore, it is important to have an accurate description of the image you embedded into your web page. The alt text is also useful because it helps those who have disabilities or difficulty reading web pages. A screen reader or dictation program will read the alt text to describe the image to the user.
Further, the alt text is useful for image SEO optimization. The more opportunities you have to rank with images, the better, and proper alt text will entice search engines to place your page higher or give more priority to it.
Use the alt text on images simply as a description of the image. Do not insert keywords here, as this will not improve your ranking possibility. Also, do not confuse the alt text with the caption. The caption is what will be displayed below the image and is immediately visible to the reader. Alt text is invisible until you hover over the image, or if the image fails to load.
Headers are the meta tags that are a part of your content. They are important because they help separate and break down the content into digestible sections, but they also allow opportunities for search engines to pick up on keywords.
We mentioned your H1 title, which is of utmost importance. However, there are also header tags from H2 to H6. They divide your content and allow readers the ability to locate relevant information in each section. When you institute a table of contents, the headers are generally the links present on the navigable table.
Header tags should not be overused, though. If you try to stuff too many headers into a piece of content, you will wind up with headers that do not have enough words beneath them. A header with only two or three sentences is not being used to its full potential. Try to create paragraphs of about 150 words, and make sure that the content of each paragraph is directly related to the header.
Canonical tags are perhaps the least well-known meta tags. They are generally used to indicate to search engines which web pages are prioritized. This is helpful when you run a business that has numerous web pages with similar content, such as multiple blogs about taking care of snakes or treatments and conditions related to TMJ disorder.
Always make sure that you use proper canonical tags to keep the most relevant and important pages in the rankings. You do not want low-priority pages to appear when better content should be taking its place.
Canonical tags are also tags that cannot be outright changed on the front end. The alt text, headers, and meta description, for example, all have easy-to-change options on a platform like WordPress, but canonical tags need to be altered in the back end of a page.
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