A quick scan of the internet will find you literally hundreds of SEO articles discussing the importance of Meta tags for on-the-page search engine optimisation.
However, with the majority of your SEO impacts coming from off-the-page activity (i.e. work done outside of your HTML statement, such as link building), just how much impact do Meta tags have on your site’s ranking? Also, there are loads of different flavours of tags – do they all impact your site in the same way?
The short answer is, unfortunately, not. In a bid to bring some clarity to the party, this article has been written to highlight some of the impacts and issues of your Meta tags so that you can take advantage and improve your ranking over your competitor’s sites.
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are included in the <head> section of your HTML code of your web pages. In this section, you will find the Title Tag plus other information that is not visible to your human web-visitors, but is intended for search engine crawlers.
These tags are included so that the search engines can more easily list your site in their indexes. View the source code from any web site and you will see these tags and their contents.
As they are only viewed by the search engine crawlers, it is not necessary to include Meta tags in your HTML. Indeed, many WYSIWYG editors such as DreamWeaver and FrontPage do not place blank tag entries in your auto-generated HTML. There are many websites that don’t have any Meta data stored at all.
Why are Meta Tags used?
When originally developed, Meta tags were designed to give webmasters a way to help search engines to understand what their sites were about. Search engines could then know how to index and rank sites in their results pages (SERPs).
The first major search engines to make use of Meta tags were Infoseek and Altervista back in 1996, and were followed soon afterwards by Inktomi and Lycos.
As creating the Meta tags in code is very simple, and the search engines were heavily reliant on them initially, this led to massive keyword spamming. As a result, most search engines withdrew their support of Meta tags, and particularly the “keywords” tag.
From being considered as one of the most reliable and important tool, Meta Tags are now often abused. In the present day scenario a vital feature that the Meta Tags provide to the websites is the ability to control, to a certain extent, how some search engines describe its web pages. Apart from this, Meta Tags also offer the ability to specify that a certain website page should not be indexed.
Using Meta Tags provides no guarantee that your website page will rank highly in the search engine rankings. Indeed, due to this wide-scale abuse and manipulation of the Meta keywords Tag, most search engines don’t support it anymore.
Types of Meta Tags
There are literally tens of Meta tags that could be discussed. Below is a list of the most important tags and their uses, as well as their misconceptions.
Click on each to visit their own blog page: