Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an essential aspect of increasing visibility and encouraging targeted traffic in the online arena. If you want your business website to get seen by anyone other than your family and friends, you must engage in SEO.

The goal of SEO is to increase your rankings with search engines. They use complex algorithms to determine the order in which websites are ranked for specific search queries. A vast number of factors play a role in these calculations.

For example, the number and quality of links pointing back to you can help to boost your rankings. That is because they can boost the quality of your content and your popularity on social media. Search engines are notoriously tight-lipped about their algorithms. Thus, it’s impossible to know exactly what gets factored in. However, you can do a lot with known factors to improve your rankings.

Another factor that plays a role is keywords. Understanding which keywords are being used to find your site and others like it can help you to create a strategy. That, in turn, will raise your rankings for specific terms. Of course, you can’t just focus on the visible content on your pages. You also need to spend time working on the hidden data search bots see.

Meta tags have an impact on your SEO. Therefore, you need to take steps to ensure that the impact is positive. Here are just a few things you should know about metadata and how it can be used to your advantage.

What are Meta Tags?

The average website owner doesn’t need to know much about HTML, or hypertext markup language. This code forms the framework of any web page. Yet, you hardly have to know how to write it in order to build your site. There are programs that allow you to simply plug in and arrange text and graphics. They do all the heavy lifting of appropriate HTML coding for you.

In fact, many people have never even bothered to look at the actual code of their web pages. If you had, you would know that HTML is made up of a series of tags. They contain information about every aspect of what you see on a web page. This information is anything from how the content is arranged to the color and size of the font.

However, you don’t have to look at this information, and neither do website visitors. All they see is the finished product. Who is looking at this code? Machines use it to interpret and display your website. Additionally, search bots look at specific data that describes the content on your pages.

This is called metadata. Specific pieces of information, such as titles, description, robots, and keyword attributes, are meta tags. Some are more important than others. However, all can be seen by search bots and used to index and rank your web pages.

Why Are Meta Tags Important?

All meta tags are important because of the information they provide search bots looking to index your website. Without this crucial information, your pages will not be indexed correctly, or at all. Plus, you won’t receive the page rank needed to increase your visibility online.

Specific meta tags are important for different reasons. Title tags are easily the most important when it comes to providing information that determines search rankings. There’s a reason you can find so many tutorials on how to write title tags for the purposes of search engine optimization.

This key piece of data is the most concise description of page content. In fact, title tags are required page elements. Some say this separates them from other meta tags, which are optional. The difference is of little consequence for the layman.

What’s important is that this piece of data provides the simplest version of a descriptor for any given web page. It also appears on tabs, providing identifying information that is visible to users (site visitors). It helps anyone or anything that looks at your webpage get an instant snapshot of the contents.

Meta description attributes are important. This is because they allow you to add pertinent information that you are unable to fit into the short title tag. This provides search bots with additional cues about how to index pages and rank them. However, in some cases, this data also shows up under the title in search listings, providing clarifying information for search users.

For example, a title tag for a page might read, “SEO Best Practices 2017”. The meta description for the page would expand on the title, perhaps reading, “The most important optimization factors to gain page rank in 2017”.

It’s important to add a meta description. Otherwise, chances are, the text that shows up under the title for search users will simply consist of the opening lines of the content on your page. Thus, you will provide no additional information for search bots.

The robots attribute only provides information for search bots. It gives them specific instructions about whether or not to index your page. Additionally, how to deal with links included on pages.

As for the keywords meta tag, which shouldn’t be confused with the keywords used in your visible page content, this is virtually useless, or worse, potentially damaging. Once upon a time, the keywords meta tag was used in determining page rank. However, some websites engaged in keyword stuffing. That is when this field is filled with trending keywords unrelated to content in order to generate undeserved rankings and traffic.

Google caught on and basically started delisting sites for the practice. These days, they virtually ignore this meta tag. Though, Bing still uses it to detect spam. If you’re adding keywords as a meta tag, you could be doing more harm than good.

Should You Use Meta Tags?

The answer is a resounding yes. Meta tags are an important tool in your SEO arsenal. They provide you with opportunities to increase rankings and generate targeted traffic. When used appropriately, meta tags are one of the easiest ways to appeal to search engines, increase visibility, and reach your target audience. If you found this article helpful please be sociable.

You can do it!

Don

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