All About SEO Meta Tags
Most SEO training begins with meta tags, which can be incredibly useful tools when it comes to search marketing. You place these tags at the top of each website page, making them the first thing that a visitor sees.
While most marketers focus on description and keyword tags, there are many other types that can enhance or even hinder your website. This guide reveals a variety of SEO meta tag examples, allowing you to decide which ones suit your site’s needs best.
1. Good Tags
“Good” meta tags are those that should always be on a website page. Use these as part of your meta tags and SEO strategy:
- Meta content type: These tags establish your character set for the page and should exist on each page. Without this tag, your page may not render clearly in a browser.
- Title tag: Title tags contain very important information when it comes to SEO. Each page should include a unique title tag that describes what the page is about.
- Meta description: Infamous in SEO marketing, the meta description tag has one simple purpose: to describe the page to search engine users as they skim through the results. While the tag won’t affect your site’s ranking, it’s still essential to your meta tags and SEO strategy.
- Viewport tag: Specifying the viewport is key when developing a mobile-friendly experience. This is typically created with a standard tag.
For additional SEO learning, YOAST has a great primer article that shows how metadata is presented to the search engines.
2. Indifferent Tags
Meta tags that are indifferent may be used in specific circumstances. Examples of indifferent tags include:
- Social: Adding tags for social media sites can be important in terms of sharing, but aren’t necessary.
- Robots: Many marketers believe that a robots tag is necessary; however, these are only mandatory if you need to change indexing or link following commands.
- Tags for specific bots: These tags give specific bots instructions (e.g., Googlebot). Typically, search engines are able to manage these bots on their own, but there are cases where you should add these tags to websites.
- Language: This tag is necessary if your website reaches an international audience and you must declare an “official” language for the page.
- Geo: Bing supports these tags currently, but not Google. Geo tags include the place name, position (latitude and longitude), and region.
- Keywords: No successful SEO plan would recommend spending time on these tags; however, they may be helpful in some cases.
- Refresh: Known as the poor man’s redirect. Server-side 301 redirects are better options over tags that refresh.
- Site verification: If Google or Bing verify your site, it’s not necessary to include a verification tag.
Use our Instant Website Checkup to see if your site is missing Meta Tags.
3. Bad Tags
“Bad” tags won’t damage your site, but they can be a waste of space. If your site contains the following tags, it may be time for a cleanup:
- Author/web author: These tags name the author of the page and are not necessary.
- Revisit after: This tag commands site robots to return to a page after a certain period of time. Currently, no search engines follow these tags.
- Rating: A rating tag reveals the maturity rating of a site’s content. However, it may be more effective to place adult images on a separate directory from other images on your site. You can also alert Google if your site contains sensitive images.
- Expiration/date: This tag notes when your page expires, and the date tag shows the creation date. If your page is going to expire, simply remove it. To track dates, create an XML sitemap and update it regularly.
- Copyright: Usually, a site’s footer includes the page’s copyright – why say it two times?
- Distribution: This tag is used to control who can access a document, and it’s usually not necessary. If your site doesn’t require a password, it’s usually open for global viewing.
- Abstract: An abstract tag is sometimes found on educational sites, but isn’t necessary for e-commerce sites.
- Generator: These tags indicate what program created the page which adds little or no value to a site.
- Cache control: This tag is set to control when and how often a website page is cached in the browser. Cache control tags are best placed in the HTTP header.
- Resource type: These tags show what type of resource the page is, such as “document.” The DTD declaration usually does this for you, making this tag unnecessary.
With so many tags to choose from, you may find that this list of meta tags is missing a few. However, these meta tag examples are a great place to start when refining your page and developing an SEO strategy.