Unsure what meta tags are, or what their purpose is? Here’s a simple breakdown of what they are and what they do for your website.
What is a meta tag?
A meta tag is a a small snippet of code that provides search engines and web browsers with useful information about your site. The tags are added in the <head> section of the page (beteween <head> and </head>). The tags are all formatted in a standard name=value pair format. A few example tags are shown below:
- <META http-equiv=”Content-Type” CONTENT=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″>
- <META NAME=”author” content=”Black Dog Education” />
- <META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”Internet marketing, internet consulting, website design, search engine marketing, web development”>
- <META NAME=”description” CONTENT=”Strategic Web Development for Small Business. Contact Black Dog Education at (916) 608-2151 for a free consultation or existing website analysis.”>
- <META NAME=”google-site-verification” content=”Mg4PI4RYmzcwnvS8lvRHUfU2rm4BwHu_6mTNQSwXyEY” />
What options are there and which ones should you be using?
While there are many different meta tags out there, like much on the web they follow the 80/20 rule: 20% of the tags will give you 80% of the results that you are looking for. The ones we recommend include:
- Description – a general description of what is contained in your page
- Keyword – a series of keywords that represents the content of your site
- Robots – declares to search engines what content to index and spider
- Googlebot – same as above but specific to Google
- Google-Site-Verification – used to verify site ownership when using Google’s Webmaster Tools
Search engines used to place a lot of weight in meta tags like keywords. Over the years, however, bad people have used keyword stuffing techniques and other “black hat” tactics to try and get high site rankings. Because of this, much of the meta tag “magic” has vanished. Many search engines nowadays don’t even use them.
My take on meta tags is this: definitely use the ones listed above. Google still pays attention to robots, descriptions, content-types and Google-site-verifications. In terms of the other tags that are available – use them if you feel like they will help your site.
What are your thoughts on meta tags? Do you use them? We’d love too read your thoughts and feedback to help us gauge the currently popularity of this type of tag.
Photo Credit: ShoutMeLoud.Com