Guide To Understanding Meta Tags – SEO For Beginners

What are Meta Tags? And how do I use them to optimize my website for Search Engines? Meta Tags are HTML markup tags that tell search engines and web browsers about your web page. In this tutorial I will show you what Meta Tags do and how they help search engines find out what your web pages are all about. We will use my Search Engine Visibility product page as an example.

Understanding The Title Tag

For example, the HTML for a title tag would look like this.

<title> GlobalWebFX.com SEO Services | Search Engine
Visibility Internet Marketing Suite </title>

Here is what the title tag looks like on a web browser’s title bar.

Example of title tag displayed on browser

The title tag should be a very brief description of what your page is about (no greater than 70 character spaces). You can use a word processing application like MS Word to get the correct character count when writing your meta tags. It is a best practice to write a well written Title Tag for each page on your website.

Understanding The Meta Description Tag

Next are the Meta Description and Meta Keyword tags. These meta tags are not visible on the website, unless you view the web page’s HTML source code or if the Search Engines choose to display your Meta Description Tag over content derived from your page content. Here is an example of what this page’s meta description looks like.

<meta name="description" content="Want your website to be on
page  one of every search engine? Improve your site rankings
in all the major  search engines with
Search Engine Visibility." />

Here is a Google Search Result that displays the Title and Meta Description tag. This screenshot was taken on 5-26-2012.

The Meta Description gives search engines a more detailed description of what your page is about. Generally the better your Meta Description is, the easier you make it for search engines to understand what your website is about. Make sure that your meta description is no longer than 160 characters with spaces. Despite what many SEO experts say, the Meta Description Tag is still used by search engines when displaying search results as illustrated in the above screenshot.

Understanding The Meta Keywords Tag

Last is the Meta Keywords tag. The meta keywords tag is a deprecated tag as it’s not as important as your Meta Description and Title Tags. Search engines rarely use keyword meta data to rank your website. If you feel that you should include the Keywords feel free to do it. It won’t hurt.

Here is an example of what the meta keywords tag looks like.

<meta name="keywords" content="Search Engine Visibility,
search engine optimization, search engine marketing, search
engine submission, submit site, automated submission, increase
traffic, search engine placement, drive site traffic, SEO,
submit web pages, search engine ranking, site traffic
optimization, increase online visibility, make money online,
internet marketing, seo services" />

As you can see the Meta Keywords tag is just a list of keywords related to our page’s content. Be sure to seperate each keyword with a coma as demonstrated in the above example and make sure that your keywords match your web page’s content.

Understanding The Robots Meta Tag

The last Meta Tag the we will discuss is the mysterious ROBOTS meta tag. The robots meta tag is generally used to tell search engines whether or not to follow a web pages internal or external links. In this case we wanted our Search Engine Visibility page’s link to not be followed by search engine crawlers. Here is what our Robots Meta Tag looks like.

<meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW" />

To see more options about Robots meta tag please visit the Robotstxt.org website.

What Other Meta Tags Can I Use On My Website?

There are other meta tags that can be used. You can even create your own custom meta tags. Will those custom meta tags get your site ranked? NO! For a complete reference on meta tags see w3c.org or Google Webmaster Tools.

Should I Create My Own Meta Tags?

Meta Tag Hoax

You are free to create your own custom meta tags, however Google will ignore meta tags that it does not recognize. You can register your own custom meta tags at http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/MetaExtensions however Google will most likely ignore your tags even if they are registered.

Should I Rely On Meta Tags To Get My Site Ranked?

No! You should write quality content for your website that is relevant and useful to your website visitors as well as having well written meta tags. Even though meta tags are a very important part of SEO, Meta Tags are only a small portion of the entire Search Engine Optimization Process.

Are there any Meta Tag and SEO tools to help me optimize my site?

There are many meta tag generation tools available on the internet. Simply Google search and you will find many Meta Tag Generators out there. I personally recommend my Search Engine Visibility tool to help you generate meta tags and get expert guidance on Search Engine Optimizing your website. Our search engine visibility tool even explains how to write good meta tags that will help with your search engine optimization efforts.

For more information see our Search Engine Visibility Tool Page  or contact us at webmaster@globalwebfx.com for a free SEO consultation.

About Matthew Shuey

I focus on internet marketing, front end web development and social media services for entrepreneurs and startups in the United States. I'm an avid Google+ user and I am easily accessible there. For more information please visit my Google+ Profile

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One Response to Guide To Understanding Meta Tags – SEO For Beginners

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you Matthew, I appreciate good information. I have always wanted to know how meta tags worked within a website, me being a beginner and all, and reading this blog really clarified a lot for me. By the way your website is awesome.

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