Meta tags are an important aspect of on-page optimization that is essential to display details about the page. There are several types of meta tags in SEO that we are going to discuss here. Keep reading to get all the details concerning it.
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are HTML tags embedded in the page source that provide search engines with information about the page. These are also referred to as “data about the page data.”
Meta tags are code snippets that give additional details regarding your content to search engines to help them understand what your page is all about.
The meta tags aren’t present on the page but on the page source in the <head> section of HTML.
This is why they are only visible to search engines. They use them to determine how a page should rank and display on SERP. However, search engines may overlook metadata at times.
Why are Meta Tags important?
We must work on our overall SEO strategy, and meta-tags are one of them. They are important from an SEO point of view and can help you enhance search appearance and search rankings. Meta tags are valuable for search engines as well as for the site’s user experience.
There are several types of meta-tags that satisfy different purposes. Some are responsible for page appearance on SERPs, and some direct how a page should be treated, whereas some enhance the page’s ranking. Let’s discuss each one by one and along with its details.
7 Major Types of Meta Tags in SEO
The following are the seven major types of meta tags in SEO:
- Meta title
- Meta Description
- Meta robots tag
- Meta viewport tag
- Image alt tag
- Canonical tag
- Heading tag
Let’s learn about each one in detail.
1. Meta Title
Meta Title is the foremost valuable meta tag in SEO that is used to represent the main idea of the content and is placed in the HTML <head> of the page. It is one of the two meta-tags that are displayed on the search engine result page. This title tag is a valuable ranking factor and is responsible for compelling or repelling a searcher to make a click, hence the CTR or the web page.
It is displayed on the SERPs, in the browser, as well as in the social shares.
An HTML title tag appears like this:
<title>your page tile</title>
How to create a valuable title?
Being displayed on the SERP, the title has the potential to grab the user’s attention and power to encourage them to click. Try to make your title concise and valuable, which gives the users the main idea of your content.
- Keep your title short, with 50-60 characters.
- Make a unique title for each webpage
- Add a keyword in the title naturally.
- Target the user’s search intent.
- Use descriptive and click-worthy titles.
- Try to add your brand name in the title at last to make a difference.
How can you add a title tag?
There are basically two different ways to add a title tag to your page. You can place it in the page head or use the plugin if you are a WordPress user.
To do it manually, embed your title within the title tags as shown below and paste it into the page’s <head> section.
<title>This is the title </title>
If you use WordPress and Yoast plugin, place the tag in the SEO title section from your post editor section.
Other CMSs also let you add title tags easily.
2. Meta Description
A meta description is the second most important type of meta tag in SEO that is also placed in the <head> section of a page. Along with the title, the second tag that is usually displayed on SERPs is the meta tag, just below the title and URL.
A meta description depicts a glimpse of content in brief that tells search engines as well as users about the content.
Is a meta description tag important?
You may wonder if the meta description is important or not.
The answer is even while Google might not always use the meta description you specified for your page, it might change it depending on the search term. Even so, including a meta description is always a good idea. Meta-description is not a ranking factor; however, it determines how your page appears on the search result page and how visitors will behave with it.
Meta description has the ability to entice users and encourage them to make click. This enhances the CTR and hence indirectly improves rankings. Thus, meta-tags are valuable in SEO.
How to create a valuable meta-description?
Keep your description within 160 characters.
Write unique and compelling descriptions for each page
Target the search intent and include keywords naturally.
How to add a meta-description?
Similar to title tags, there are two ways to add meta-description to your page. You can place it in the page head or use the plugin if you are a WordPress user.
To do it manually, embed your description within the meta tags as shown below and paste it into the page’s <head> section.
<meta name= "description" content= "place your description here.">
If you use WordPress and Yoast plugin, place it in the meta description section from your post editor screen.
Other CMSs also let you add meta-description tags easily.
3. Meta Robots tags.
Meta robots tags are the parameters that are placed within an HTML tag to instruct search engines on how to behave with your web pages. These types of meta tags don’t impact rankings and SEO directly.
By default, search engines crawl and index all the links and web pages you create. However, you can use meta robots tags to control the crawling and indexing of your links and web pages.
There are the following types of parameters used with robots tags:
Index, noindex, follow and nofollow.
Index: This tag is used to instruct search engines to index the web page. This will display the page in relevant search results. This is set by default.
Noindex: This is used to instruct search engines to prevent indexing of the webpage. This will prevent the page from appearing in search results.
Follow: This tag is used to instruct search engines to follow all the links on the web page. This is set by default.
Nofollow: This is used to instruct search engines to prevent the crawling of the links present on a web page. Search engines will not follow the links noticing the nofollow tag.
<meta name=“robots” content=“nofollow”/>
Here the robots meta tag instructs search engines to prevent crawling of the links and not to follow them.
<meta name=“robots” content=“noindex”/>
Here the robots meta tag instructs search engines not to index the web page.
You can also combine these tags as per your need.
<meta name=“robots” content=“noindex, nofollow”/> <meta name=“robots” content=“index, nofollow”/> <meta name=“robots” content=“index, follow”/>
How to add a meta robots tag?
You can add a meta robots tag in your page’s header section. Or, if you use WordPress, there are many plugins for this, such as Yoast plugin. Its advanced settings let you add robots meta tags easily.
Other CMSs also let you add meta robots tags easily.
Note: Do not use meta robots tags in robots.txt to block pages;
Use meta robots tags only to limit Google’s ability to crawl a web page;
Make sure you don’t restrict your site’s important page.
4. Meta viewport tag
A meta viewport tag is another type of meta tag in SEO that adjusts the visible area of a web page as per the searcher’s device. The tag instructs the web browser on how to render the page on different devices such as desktops, tablets, and mobile.
Basically, with this tag, your web page appearance changes when viewed on different devices.
Why is viewport meta important?
Viewport meta tags are important because most visitors visit your site using mobile devices. The desktop version is hard to read, thus resulting in a higher bounce rate and loss of traffic. This tag helps in adjusting the page as per the device screen of the searcher.
The viewport meta port does not affect the rankings; however, it is valuable for user experience. Thus, using a meta viewport tag is an important SEO practice.
It indicates to search engines that a page is mobile-friendly, and we all know the importance of mobile-friendliness. Viewport meta tags are necessary for making a web page mobile-friendly; however, your website should also have a responsive design.
Thus, make sure to use a meta viewport tag on all your web pages.
How to add a meta viewport tag?
You can add a meta viewport tag in your page’s header section.
<meta name=“viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0”>
Here, the content attribute is set to width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0 because it is most common and most suited for most pages to make them mobile-friendly. But it may vary.
5. Image Alt tags
An alt tag is used with an image tag to describe the image in text form. These alt tags are valuable for on-page SEO as it tells search engines about the image. These are also shown when the image can’t load properly and thus are valuable for user experience.
Additionally, these alt tags are valuable for images to rank in image searches.
Example: An image alt tag for a girl in a blue dress looks like this:
<img src= “girl.png” alt= “girl in blue dress”>
Tips for image alt text:
Always use optimized images.
Use alt text for all images because google can’t see images.
Keep your alt text specific and descriptive.
You can use your keyword if it fits naturally.
How to add an alt tag?
You can add an alt tag in your page’s header section as well as using your CMS.
To place an alt tag, embed it in your image tag. Like this:
<img src= “kw tool.png” alt= “keyword research tool”>
Additionally, most CMS allows you to add an image alt tag easily. For instance, WordPress users can add an image alt tag while adding an image to their posts or pages.
6. Canonical tags
Canonical tags are the tags that are valuable in telling search engines which page is your most preferred page that you want to get indexed and display in search results. These tags are valuable in preventing duplicate content issues on your site.
This is what a canonical tag looks like:
<Link rel=“canonical” href=“http:// abc.com/”/>
Why are canonical tags important?
Duplicate content may affect SEO and search rankings. Thus, canonicals are important as they prevent duplicate content issues and also prevent link dilution to unimportant pages. They improve crawling and let you manage syndicate content effectively.
How to setup canonical tags
Similar to the above, canonicals can be set via two methods: one in the page’s header and the other using a plugin.
Include the rel=canonical tag to the page <head> section of the duplicate page.
The next way to add canonical tags is by using a plugin if you are a WordPress user. Yoast SEO is a plugin that can help you with that.
This plugin automatically adds self-referential canonicals to each page. However, to add custom canonicals, you can use the advanced settings.
7. Heading tags
Header tags are HTML tags ranging from H1 to H6 that are used to structurize the contents. These are used to give headings and subheadings to make the content more readable and comprehensible.
These do not give a boost to rankings; however, these are valuable for user experience; they make the content graspable and easy to digest. For search engines, they make crawling easier and help them to understand the content in a better way.
How to implement heading tags:
Heading tags can easily be added to your page’s header section, or you can add them easily from your post editor in WordPress.
For instance: To add an H1 tag in your page’s header, enclose your page title within H1 tags like this:
<H1> meta tags in SEO <H1/>
To add the H1 tag, the WordPress post editor gives a completely separate section above the page.
And to add H2, H3, and so on tags, you can select the heading from the paragraph dropdown at the top right corner.
So, these were some most important types of Meta-tags in SEO. Although meta tags do not help us to achieve higher ranking directly, they are important from an SEO perspective. They improve search engine optimization, some help search engines to better understand your content, some instruct them on how to behave with your content, some prevent duplicate content issues, and some help you structure your content. All meta tags add some value to your content, making them more SEO friendly and user-friendly. All these are valuable in the long run and indirectly help you rank better, even if a little.
We hope this has helped you understand different types of meta-tags in SEO. Include them in your SEO strategy and better optimize your content.