What Are Meta Tags and How Do You Use Them?
Meta tags are an essential tool that help webmasters build high-quality websites that are compatible with a myriad of different web browsers. These powerful tags are also part of the algorithm that search engines use when determining a website’s ranking. This ranking has the potential to bring in more search traffic to the website in question. Unfortunately, many amateur webmasters do not understand just how essential it is to create dynamic meta tags, leading to serious consequences in terms of lost search traffic and the overall performance of the website.
What Is a Meta Tag?
Meta tags are pieces of information hiding within the HTML coding of a website. These tags contain information that is never directly shown to the user, but remains viewable by anyone accessing the page source. This includes search engine bots that scan sites for relevancy in relation to a particular subject matter. Meta tags are an optional part of the HTML code, but nevertheless serve a valuable purpose. For this reason, it is always ideal for web masters to use these tools to connect with potential readers.
Exploring Common Meta Tags
While there is no required set of tags for any particular site, there are certain meta tags that appear quite frequently across the web. The following meta tags are those you might expect to see in any site’s code:
The Description Tag
Even those who have never written a web page will be familiar with the description meta tag. The content that falls within this tag is the information that the search engine displays under the link to a site. It is necessary to give search engine users a clear idea of what they can expect to discover on the site in question, thus demonstrating the importance of this tag. While specific character counts vary from search engine to search engine, most prefer that this content utilize around 150 characters.
Robot Meta Tags
Robot tags are used to tell the search engine what it should or shouldn’t do with the content it discovers. Some web masters use this tool to make certain a particular site is not parsed and displayed within search results. It is essential to note that the guidelines outlined in the robot tags will not necessarily be followed by search engines with less sophisticated algorithms.
Once seen as the “Holy Grail” for search engine optimization, the keywords meta tag was used by web designers years ago to establish what the sites content held. None of the major search engines rely on this tag to establish a site’s relevancy any more, and some will even penalize users that utilize the tag in a fraudulent manner. To prevent this from occurring, it is generally advisable to simply refrain from using keywords meta tags entirely.
Crafting a web site takes a healthy investment of both time and energy. By focusing on the small details, including meta tags creation, webmasters can ensure their site reaches its intended audience and is accessible to search engines. While not necessarily serving as an indispensable tool for pulling in traffic, meta tags nevertheless play a pivotal role in the overall design of a website.