What are Meta tags?

Meta tags are short bits of text that describe a web page’s content – they are usually placed in the HTML code of a website.  Although they are not visible on the web page, search engines and web browsers can read these tags. They offer metadata about the HTML document, which can include details about the author, keywords, and descriptions of its contents, among other things.

Key types of meta tags

  • Meta description tags

They provide a brief description of the page’s content. Often seen in search engine results. They can heavily influence click-through rates.

  • Meta keywords tags

They tell search engines what the page is about, i.e., its topic. They differ from regular keywords because they appear ‘behind the scenes’ in the page’s source code.

  • Title tags

Not technically a meta tag, but frequently linked with them. They set the page’s title, which is important for SEO (search engine optimization) and user experience.

  • Meta robots tag

These can indicate to a search engine whether to index a page or give links importance.

According to semrush.com:
“A meta robots tag is HTML code that tells search engine robots how to crawl, index, and display a page’s content.”

Image showing meta tags from a page source of a web page
Image created by Market Business News.

Importance of meta tags

Let’s see why meta tags matter:

  • SEO

Well-crafted meta tags can improve a website’s or web page’s SEO, helping it rank higher in search engine results.

  • User experience

The title tag and meta description give users a preview of the webpage’s content.

  • Control over content

Website owners have control over how search engines index and crawl their site thanks to meta tags such as robots tag.

Best practices

The following tips may help when creating tags for your web page:

  • Accurate descriptions

Make sure the meta description accurately summarizes the content of the page.

  • Optimized titles

The title should be short and contain relevant keywords.

  • Unique tags for each page

Each page should have its own meta tags that are relevant to its content.

  • Avoid keyword stuffing

Overloading meta tags with keywords may lead to penalties from search engines.

Challenges with Meta tags

The following are some of the main challenges that come with meta tags:

  • Changing search engine algorithms

The relevance of specific meta tags may vary as search engines evolve, requiring ongoing adjustments of SEO strategies. In other words, what helped give your web page a high ranking last month may not do so today because Google changed it algorithms.

  • Content relevance

Meta tags need to be relevant to the page’s content. Misleading ones can damage your website’s credibility and ranking.

Written by Nicolas Perez Diaz