What are Meta Tags and Are They Still Relevant

Meta tags were one of the main ranking factors for Google. Unfortunately, website owners misused these tags which led to search engines striking them off their list of ranking factors. As a result, many search engine optimization experts placed more focus on factors such as content optimization and link building. Does this mean that meta tags aren’t relevant anymore? The truth is that tags are still important for every web page. They just don’t count when it comes to ranking a web page.

What are meta tags and why they are still relevant?
Meta tags contain short text that describes a web page. They don’t appear on the web page when it’s displayed but is unseen within the code. Meta tags are placed within the HTML head tags. Their main purpose is to tell search engines what the specific web page is about.

There are three main meta tags used on web pages.

  1. The title tag gives the web page a unique title differentiating it from other pages within the website.
  2. The meta description tag provides a brief summary of the contents of the page.
  3. The keywords meta tag lists the main keywords targeted by the web page. This tag was the most abused prior to 2009. Webmasters stuffed it with keywords, often with keywords unrelated to the content within the page.

Which meta tags are most relevant to SEO?

Title tag and SEO
The title tag is the most important meta tag. It uniquely identifies the web page. In addition, if crafted well, it can affect ranking for the particular web page if it targets a particular keyword. When creating this tag, it is important to keep it short and keyword rich. This increases the chances of your web page appearing in search results for the given keywords. Keeping it short ensures that it doesn’t get truncated in the search results.

The title tag actually appears in the search results as a link. That’s one reason why you should ensure that it’s descriptive and indicates what content the searcher will expect to find when clicking through.

Meta description tag and SEO
The meta description contains a summary of the content found on the web page. Like the title tag, it will appear in search results pages. Generally, the description should be between 150 and 160 characters. Anything beyond 160 characters will be truncated.

Besides providing a brief summary of the web page content, the description tag also serves as the bait to prompt a click through. It should, therefore, be unique, keyword rich and brief.

Why use meta tags if they don’t help in ranking?

Although most meta tags won’t directly affect ranking, they still play a large role in increasing click through rates (CTR). Interestingly, CTR is one of the ranking factors that search engines use. The inclusion of meta tags also directs search engines away from extracting a random snippet from your content and using it as the page’s description.

Hopefully, this has answered your questions about what meta tags are and why they are still relevant. Although they won’t directly help your web page rank higher for particular keywords, meta tags will still increase chances of a web page appearing for search terms found in the title and meta description. In addition, they can also increase CTRs, which will help improve overall ranking.

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