How Do Meta Tags Help SEO?
Meta tags have become an undervalued component of search marketing success. Technically speaking, a "meta tag" is an HTML tag which is located in the "head" of your web pages. These HTML tags give search engines, such as Google, metadata to help provide the best search experience for the user. For this reason, meta tags are important for Google SEO.
In this article, you'll learn:
- What "meta tag" means, as well as how to view your site's meta data, and how it impacts visitors.
- Why the term is important to you and to your website.
- How to get the most out of your meta tags.
What Are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are snippets of code on a web page. They offer information about a page (metadata). All meta tags but the "title" tag are invisible as a site visitor looks at your website, but meta tags can be exposed to searchers.
How Do I See My Pages' Meta Tags?
You can view your page's meta tags by right clicking anywhere on the page, and clicking "view page source" (in Firefox) or "view source" (in IE):
You'll then see a series of tags. We'll deal with four specific meta tags: the most common and the most important (while other types of meta tags exist, they're either less common or not relevant to marketing a website ).
Having viewed source, your meta data will likely look something like this:
<head> <title>Meta Tag - How Meta Tags Impact SEO & PPC</title> <meta name="description" content="Meta tags can have a larger impact on SEO and your website than you may think: find out more..." /> <meta name="keywords" content="meta tags,meta tag,meta tags seo,meta tags definition,what is a meta tag" /> <meta name="robots" content="index,follow" /></head>
Visitors see this information in the following ways:
- Title Tag - This is the text you'll see at the top of your browser. Search engines view this text as the "title" of your page.
- Meta Keywords Attribute - A series of keywords you deem relevant to the page in question.
- Meta Description Attribute - A brief description of the page.
- Meta Robots Attribute - An indication to search engine crawlers (robots or "bots") as to what they should do with the page.
So What Do Meta Tags Have to Do With SEO, PPC, or my site?
The above tags all have varying degrees of impact on your website. Lets look at each tag:
This is the most important of all of the meta tags discussed here for SEO. The title tag has a tremendous impact on search rankings, and will serve as the text at the top of your browser (for organic search  pages or for PPC landing pages ):
Meta Keywords Attribute
- Impact at some engines - While Google seems to have devalued the meta keywords tag almost entirely, some alternative engines still seem to give the attribute some weight (Yahoo! for instance).
- Your site search - Many sites' site search places a lot of emphasis on meta keywords and other meta attributes; this allows you to control the way visitors see pages in your site search via the selection of meta keywords.
Meta Description Attribute
The meta description tag's main purpose is that it shows in response to search queries as a search engine's summary of your page. So, someone looking for "meta keywords" might see this result:
This is important because the meta description is essentially serving as your "ad" within the organic search results.
Meta Robots Attribute
With this attribute, you're telling the search engines what to do with your pages:
- index/noindex - This tells the engines whether to show your page in search results, or not.
- follow/nofollow  - This tells the engines what to do with links on your pages: whether they should trust and "follow" your links to the next page or not.
So what's next? What Do I Do with All These Meta Tags and Meta Attributes?
So now you know that meta tags actually have a very real impact on search engine marketing. You know that meta tags can:
- Potentially have some impact on Quality Score.
- Impact search rankings via the title tag.
- Help determine the way your internal site search is configured.
- Play a role in search rankings at alternative search engines.
- Serve as "organic ad text".
Fine. Great. But what can you do about it?
Using Meta Tags for Search Engine Marketing
There are a few best practices you'll want to follow in the implementation of a sound meta tag strategy:
- Use a Meta Keyword Generator  - The first thing that should be apparent if you have a website of any scale is that you don't want to be generating meta keywords by hand; WordStream's keyword tool suite offers an innovative solution  for this.
- Create a Logical Keyword Structure for Your Content  - In order to effectively target certain keywords on certain pages and then write compelling meta descriptions for said pages, you need to be able to effectively identify which pages should be targeting which keywords: this means an intelligent SEO information architecture .
- Be Sure You're Targeting the Right Keywords  -And, of course, the real key to the success of your meta data is targeting the right keywords to begin with: be sure you have a highly effective keyword suggestion tool set  available to you.
To learn more about how our tool works and how it can help you to create great meta descriptions, you can try WordStream for SEO free Today !
Learn more about how WordStream's complete all-in-one SEO package  can help you optimize your search marketing campaigns so that you rank higher in search engines like Google.