What is a Meta Tag in 2022?

When trying to get a better sense of how websites are ranked by Google, it is likely that you will have encountered something called a meta tag. Understandably, your next question might be, what is a meta tag? Meta tags, or “metadata”, are found in the HTML of a document and provide search engines with critical information about a webpage.

Google uses the metadata from meta tags to collect information about a website. This information is then used to determine where a site will be ranked on the search engine results page or what content should appear in the search results.

How to use Meta Tags

Meta tags give just the right amount of information to Google for ranking purposes. The following list expands on the most essential meta tags and how to use them.

  • Meta content type
  • Title
  • Meta description
  • Viewport
  • Meta robots
  • Canonical

Meta Content Type

This meta tag is important to include on every page because it establishes your character set per page. The exclusion of meta content type could negatively affect how your page renders in the browser.

Title

Titles tags are included in the header and provide valuable information for the searcher as well as for SEO purposes. These tags should always be unique on every page and no longer than 580px for ideal optimization.

Meta Description

The meta description plays an important role in SEO because it entails the information that is viewable on the search engine results page. As searchers scroll through the ranked pages, they will refer to the meta description before making a decision to click on the webpage.

Viewport

The viewport is an important part of understanding a meta tag because it determines how web pages will be displayed on a mobile device. Without proper viewport tagging, searches may not engage with a website due to poor quality.

Meta Robots

Meta robots tag is a tag that indicates to search engines what to follow or what not to follow. Using a meta robots tag in the <head> section of your website allows you to specify which pages you want to be unseen by search engine crawlers and which ones you want to be indexed and seen.

Canonical Tag

A canonical tag is a tag that helps search engines understand which URL is the master copy of a page. For instance, websites with duplicate content appearing on multiple pages with different URLs cannot be properly understood by search engines. Using canonical tags allows you to differentiate the master copy of a page without having to delete existing URLs.

Do Meta Tags Affect SEO?

Meta tags directly affect SEO in that they determine how your site will appear in the SERPs and thus, the number of clicks you get from visitors to your website. The chain of events resulting from meta tags is the determining factor of traffic and engagement to a website, and as a result, your overall SEO and rankings. Off-page optimization and using 301 redirects as needed are also critical components to an effective SEO strategy.

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