What are META Tags?

What are META Tags?

META Tags or Metadata is defined as:

Data (information) about data. The tag provides metadata about an HTML document. Metadata will not be displayed on a webpage, but will be machine parsable. Meta elements are typically used to specify page description, keywords, author of the document, last modified, and other metadata

Search engines use Metadata to learn more about what a page is about and use this in their algorithm to determine where to place a page in their results pages. META tags on their own aren’t going to get your website ranking on the first page of Google though, so it’s important to understand what they are and how to use them correctly.

Back in the early days of the World Wide Web, canny webmasters realised that search engines like Google were placing high importance on META tag data and soon began taking advantage by ‘keyword stuffing’ their meta tags with all sorts of keywords relating to their website. In the short term this made a huge difference to their rankings as Google and other search engines ranked the sites with the most keywords above those that didn’t utilise this technique. But the search engines soon became wise to this trick and began placing less emphasis on metadata than they used to in order to combat spammy websites that were appearing on the first pages of their results.

Today metadata is still a useful indicator to search engines about what a particular webpage is about. When used correctly metadata can help a website rank above competitors and even encourage more clicks from the Search Engine Results Pages.

The correct placement of META tags is important and they should always appear near the top of the HTML as part of the heading.

There are many kinds of META tags with the keywords META tags and the description META tags being the most popular.

The keywords META tags list the keywords or the key phrases describing the contents of the web page and is now widely regarded as being of no use for SEO. This is because most search engines don’t take much, if any, notice of the content of this META tag due to widespread spamming issues in the past. As such, UK SEO LTD doesn’t add this particular META tag to any websites we build or optimise.

The description META tag include a brief description of the contents of the web page. This makes for easier indexing of the content and some search engines will use the description META tags to display a summary of the page content. The description META tag is one of the most important for any webpage and using well written, descriptive snippets can help increase clicks from the Search Engine Results Pages.

Our free SEO Audit will check your webpages metadata and report any issues that might need addressing. You can do this yourself or speak to us and we’ll help improve them as part of our Search Engine Optimisation services.

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