The HTML codes that webmasters insert on page headers after the title tag are called meta tags, which can be broken down into two different elements: meta descriptions and meta keywords. These elements are used to suggest how you would like your listing to be described and provide a consistent page description on the search results pages across all major search engines.
While meta tags once held a log of weight when it came to Search Engine algorithms and ranking factors, their importance has since been de-emphasized because of unscrupulous marketing techniques employed by many websites. This has left many people to wonder if Meta tags are still important. You might be surprised to learn that Meta tags still hold value in search engine optimization.
A Meta description is not considered a ranking factor by major search engines. This means that the description alone will not get your website listed higher in search results, no matter how many keywords it contains. Instead, it is considered a display factor.
Display factors are designed to appeal to potential viewers through an emotional connection of some sort. So it can be argued that a well written Meta description can increase click-throughs to your website. The number of click-throughs that a website receives is in fact a ranking factor, validating the importance of Meta descriptions.
More Efficient Search Results
A Meta keyword tag is a concise list of the most important themes found on each page of your website. Since the keyword density on webpages is no longer as important in search engine rankings and you can actually be penalized for peppering documents with keywords too many times, Meta keyword tags are still important. Including accurate keyword tags will help search engines find your website more quickly and increase its ranking.
Quality, Not Quantity
It should be noted that while Meta tags are still relevant, the quality is more important than the quantity. Here are a few tips to help you write description tags that are appealing to both potential viewers as well as search engines.
- Keep it short, yet descriptive. A Meta description tag should be limited anywhere from 170 to 200 characters. Any information beyond that will usually be ellipsed and won’t show up in the description.
- Be consistent. The tone and style of the writing should be consistent across your website.
- Create unique Content. Each description should be unique to the page it is written for. Avoid the urge to copy and paste similar descriptions to speed up the process.
There are quality standards for keyword tags as well.
- Limit keywords. Choose a maximum of 10 to 15 keywords or phrases that are unique to each page. Do not repeat any keywords or keyword phrases. The more specialized the information on the page, the easier it will be to identify themes and keywords.
- Prioritize keywords. List the keywords or phrases that are most important to each page at the beginning of the tag. This will give them more priority in search engine algorithms.
- Format correctly. Each keyword or keyword phrase should be separated with a comma. There should not be any spaces between commas.