When you’re just getting started with your online business, you will eventually hear about the infamous, “Meta Tags”. As a beginner, it can be confusing to understand exactly what they are, and more so, how they are used. Some descriptions can be rather vague and leave you with more questions than answers.
I aim to clear up some confusion and hopefully by the end of this article, you will understand what meta tags are and how to use them for your website SEO. If you are just doing the research now to see if building an online business is for you, then check out my article on the cheapest way to start a blog, or how long it takes to earn a full time income blogging.
What Is A Meta Tag? (With Example)
Meta tags are pieces of HTML code, often found in the page “head”, that help search engines understand what your content is about for each page or post. There are various types of meta tags. The most commonly referenced tags for SEO are title tags, description tags, and keyword tags.
You can see the title tags and description tags listed in the SERPs after performing a search, as seen in the image below.
You may also find the meta tags by manually searching through the HTML of a particular page or post. To do this, simply right click on that page or post, and choose “view page source”. This allows you to see the HTML code on the back end of the website.
If that page has a meta title, description, or keywords set, then you will find them here. Below is an image of the page you are seeing from my search result above.
Meta tags aren’t typically something a newbie should be super concerned with at first, but they will help you optimize your website later down the road after your getting traffic. We’ll talk about that soon, but for now, let’s cover how the search engines use these meta tags.
How Do Search Engines Use Meta Tags?
Search Engines use meta tags in various ways to decide things such as, how to show your website in the search results, if they should follow a link from your site, or if they should index that page at all. They will only implement tags that they understand and ignore the rest.
Four of the most common meta tags that you will see in the blogging world would be as follows.
- Title Tag: This tells search engines, that this is the title of your post and what they should show in the SERPs as a clickable link to your article. You will want to keep the character count below 60 here, or it may get cut down in the search results.
- Meta Description: Use this to tell the search engines about your page or post, and this will also be what potential visitors see while scrolling through the SERPs. Keep this one below 160 characters or risk having it cut down as well.
- Meta Keywords: Decide on what keywords are highly relevant to your article, and enter them here to let the search engines know what the focus is. This is no longer needed and I’ll explain why in just a moment.
- Robots Attribute: This will direct google in various ways depending on what attribute is set. For instance, if we set a no-index attribute, then the search engines will understand not to index that particular page or post in the search results. If we decide to use a no-follow tag, then the search engines will understand that they should not follow a link.
Manually using meta tags requires a bit of coding. Luckily, you do not have to learn how to code in order to make a successful website anymore. While that knowledge could come in handy if you wanted to D.I.Y. some aspects of your site, and it was necessary in the past, there are plenty of plugins that will take care of the metadata for you today.
I’ll give you a couple of those now and let you see how easy it is to add meta tags into your WordPress website using these plugins.
The 2 Most Popular Plugins For On Page SEO
Plugins are going to be a life saver for the beginner who knows little to nothing about developing a website. They simplify the process for many aspects depending on what plugin you’re using. While you will have options when choosing a plugin to help you with the metadata, these two come in at the top of almost every list.
These plugins are the most popular on page SEO plugins for a reason. They make the process simple and eliminate the need to code anything in order to optimize your website, and they have years of success behind them with many happy users. For the beginner, this is where you will want to add meta tags to your WordPress website.
Yoast SEO is the #1, most popular WordPress plugin used to optimize your on page SEO. With over 5 million active installations, it’s safe to assume that they are doing something right. Using Yoast will make managing your title and description tags a breeze and comes with a ton of other built in SEO features at your disposal.
There is a premium version, but for most users, the free version will handle everything you need to optimize your sites. There are a lot of great resources out there that cover all aspects of using Yoast, and for this article, I’m going to include a quick video from Deacon Hayes on how to add meta titles and meta descriptions with the Yoast SEO plugin.
All in one SEO Pack:
All in One SEO comes in as the 2nd most popular with over 2 million active installations, and its’ what I use for on page SEO. This plugin has been a great help for me from the very beginning and it came pre-installed with my website through Wealthy Affiliate. Adding meta tags, descriptions, and keywords is a breeze and straight to the point. The entire process has been very beginner friendly and easy to understand.
As with Yoast, the All in One SEO Pack also has a premium version, but I can attest that the free version is more than sufficient for most users. You can also find a plethora of useful information on this plugin and how to configure any settings that you would like to adjust. Deacon Hayes has another quick video on how to create titles and meta descriptions with All in One SEO that you can take a look at to get behind the scenes.
Should Meta Tags Be On Every Page?
Every page or post on your website should contain meta tags. This will happen naturally as you create your content. Setting up internal and external links, creating H1, 2, and 3 headers, adding images. All of these will involve adding tags to every page that you create on your site and they are essential for quality content.
Google and other search engines are aiming to rank quality content that offers a great user experience, if you are not using meta tags, then you will likely have neither. Beginners can utilize content management tools to simplify the process and have all the tags taken care of for you.
I use the Site Content feature from inside Wealthy Affiliate to write all of my articles. You can even create this type of content directly from your WordPress dashboard, although it may not be as user friendly.
Another question to consider about meta tags, is if you need them for your title and description.
What Meta Tags Are Important For SEO?
Every page or post should have a title tag and meta description. These will have an effect of how your content is perceived by potential visitors to your site, and this will have an impact of your rankings over time. Accurate and enticing meta titles and descriptions will lead traffic to your site, and if the content is helpful, your rankings may increase.
The most important of these two meta tags is the title tag. Title tags help the search engines understand what your page is about and this is what potential visitors will see first while searching. By crafting accurate and enticing titles for each published article, you will increase your odds of gaining traffic and better rankings. Keep your titles less than 60 characters long so they are not cut off in the SERPs.
The description tags are no longer a ranking factor with Google, but they may still affect your rankings indirectly. Searchers will see your description and this is another chance to entice that traffic to visit your website. If you provide them with value, Google will know, and this can help improve your rank and traffic as well. Keep this under 160 characters for optimal results.
How To Optimize Title Tags And Meta Descriptions For SEO: 4 Quick Tips
Here are just four quick tips that should help you optimize your title tags and meta descriptions for SEO to give you the best chance of earning a top spot in the search results.
- Don’t write for the search engines.
Seems counterintuitive to the beginner, but after thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. Google cares about quality content and they judge quality from user experience among many other factors. If you write for the search engines, then your content will not be natural, as your writing to a machine. Helping people is the goal and that is where you will find success.
Make it all, make human sense. If it doesn’t work in a sentence, then it’s probably not a great option for any part of your content, especially your title tag and meta description.
- Use the most important keywords first, when possible.
The only exception to this rule of thumb would only apply if your are writing content in a language that is read from right to left, in that instance, you would want to use the most important keywords last.
- Keep the keywords highly relevant to your article.
Don’t be misleading with the keywords in your title tag and meta descriptions. While you do want to entice potential visitors to click through to your site, you don’t want to be using click bait. This will lead visitors to your site, and they will quickly leave. That tells the search engines that you are not offering what they were looking for, you are giving a bad user experience, and your rankings may suffer because of this.
- Don’t Stuff Keywords
Just in case you don’t already know, stuffing keywords is bad for your SEO. Keyword stuffing is basically repeating the same keywords over and over again among other tactics, and it was used in the past as a black hat SEO tactic to get sites ranked on page one, position one. Search engines eventually caught on, and made some algorithm changes to combat these various methods.
Google and others no longer look at the keyword density to decide where to rank a page. They now focus on quality content and user experience as I mentioned before. Stuffing keywords can get your site banned from the search results, so steer clear of that path if your seeking long term results from your efforts.
What Do You Think About Meta Tags And SEO?
Hopefully I have made good on my attempt to explain what meta tags are and how to use them for SEO. You should have a far better understanding of the topic, and now you know that they are not something to worry about doing manually. Even beginners can get started building a successful website without learning how to code.
I highly recommend that you get one of the two plugins I mentioned, so that you can easily manage your on page SEO, and nail those title tags and meta descriptions.
Tell me what you think about it all in the comments below.
Did any of this, not make sense to you? If so, what do I need to clarify to help you out?
Did you learn anything that you havn’t already discovered somewhere else?
By leaving me some feedback, you help me to help you. I feel confident that I explained this thoroughly, but I can only see this from one side, and you may see it differently. Let me know before you go.
To Your Success,