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Is Meta Tag Information Still Relevant for SEO?

seo-meta-tagsHave you considered implementing an SEO strategy for your website? If you have done any research on what SEO is, the benefits of SEO or SEO implementation strategies, you have most likely stumbled upon some articles referring to the importance of meta tag information. Meta tag information, for the most part, is the information placed between the <HEAD> information in the back-end of your website. This information is a communication portal to browsers and search engine spiders and isn’t visible to human visitors to the website.

Meta tag information used to be a powerful tool for webmasters to easily achieve higher rankings for their websites. Webmasters would place a long list of target keywords, otherwise known as “keyword stuffing,” in the meta keyword field and generate a bit of traffic for these phrases without having any relevant content on the webpages.

Search engines have long since caught on to this practice and have made it much more difficult to achieve high rankings for keywords. In fact, if you do try to perform the old practice of “keyword stuffing,” whether in your meta information or within the body of you content, your website SEO will likely suffer. “Keyword stuffing” along with many other practices are now considered a Black Hat SEO practice. If an SEO firm promises overnight success, they are most likely using some Black Hat SEO techniques that will have a long-term negative impact on your website.

Although meta tag information is not the “one-stop” solution to SEO that we’d all like it to be, it still plays an important role in the health and optimization of your website. The following are a few meta tags that can be used on your website and how they can assist with SEO, usability and performance:

Page Title Tag – this isn’t technically considered a meta tag, but it falls within the <HEAD> area of a website. The page title tag is the text that appears in the top tab of an open browser window. Adding keyword phrases to the page title tag is not only still important for SEO, but it is also sometimes used as the clickable title in search results. Since this portion of your meta data is read by humans you should focus on making the text not only keyword optimized but also interesting, eye-catching, and legible. Lastly, keep your page title tags to 69 characters, including spaces.

Meta Description – the meta description is still important for SEO, but the keywords you place in this section are weighed less heavily than in other parts of your website. The real benefit behind meta description these days is that it is usually used by directories and search engines to describe the webpage. Each webpage should have a unique short meta description, 160 characters or less (including spaces). We suggest keeping the potential visitor in mind and write descriptions that will entice people to click on your link from the search results.

Meta Keywords – the meta keywords section provides additional text for search engine spiders to help catalog webpages. The meta keywords section has a very small impact on SEO and many search engines no longer support meta keywords so don’t spend a lot of time on this for each webpage. Instead, focus on including just a few unique target keywords on each webpage for the few search engines that still support it. Keep in mind that the meta keywords you include should also be mentioned within the content of the webpage to reinforce to search engines that your webpage is about the chosen meta keywords.

Meta Robots Tag – these meta robots tags let web developers tag certain pages of the website to keep search engine spiders from indexing them. This can be very helpful if you are developing new pages that aren’t ready, contain old content, or are duplicate webpages. Maintaining a clean and healthy website, by controlling pages being indexed, can have an overall positive SEO effect on your website.

Setting up meta tag information on your website will not automatically lead to a #1 search page result, but used in tandem with other SEO strategies it can definitely help your website succeed.

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