Meta tags are something that might be a little confusing to any beginners to the area of websites design or SEO and they are often something that people get completely wrong. Basically, a meta tag is just a piece of code that will be found in your HTML web page mark-up that will tell search engines about your page. There are more meta tags out there than ever at the moment but here are the few that you really need to know.
Must have Meta Tags
Meta Title: This is the meta tag that will tell search engines, and visitors that see your website in the SERP’s what your site is all about. This should be a place that you use to tell potential visitors what your site is all about as well as include keywords.
Meta Description: This is a meta tag that should describe what your website is about. Any keywords in here are not usually used to determine your ranking but there are great for telling your visitors what your site is all about. You should write a short description of your site here as it will show up in the SERP’s. The more descriptive you make this look, the higher click through rate you will get to your website when it comes to the SERP’s. Please note that Google will not always use this as the description in the SERP’s.
Meta Keywords: This is a tag that tells search engines what keywords your site is targeted at. This used to be something that had a lot of weight applied to it but these days, a lot of search engines have stopped using it including Google. However, some do still use it for some ranking factors and it isn’t much trouble to fill in so it’s worth having it in your mark-up.
Meta Robots tags
There are two meta robots tags that will be extremely useful for a lot of people and these are nofollow and noindex. These are explained below:
Meta nofollow: This is a tag that is used to tell the search engines whether they should ‘follow’ a page or not. If you have the nofollow tag present for a page, the search engines will not follow this page. This is great if you have particular information that you don’t want them to see for any reason.
Meta noindex: This is a useful tag if for any reason you want to disallow a search engine from actually indexing the page. Any page that has this tag will not appear in the Google SERP’s or any other search engine for that matter. This might be used if you haven’t quite got your site ready yet or haven’t launched.
All websites should make use of the meta title, meta description and meta keywords tag and ideally, they should be different for every page. there are a number of other, less important meta tags out there that allow you to tell Google a variety of things, as well as other sites such as Facebook.