The importance of good META tags on a website
Are you a small business in Surrey, Vancouver, or really anywhere and are wondering why people are not clicking on your website? Are you not even on page 10 in Google's rankings? Or are you showing up, but not getting the clicks? Then maybe you need better META tags for your website. Find out how in this writeup below.
What are META tags?
META tags are pieces of information used mainly by the search engine robots to give them information about the web page. This may include the page title, a page description, author, key words and more.
Why are META tags important?
Think of a library where all the books had blank covers – no title, no abstract, no author and no category and call number for the librarian. How would anyone know where to find their books and how would you know what the book is about unless you picked it up and read it. Well the same thing goes with the META tags. The search engine robots get a sense of what the page should be about before having to cruise through the site (although now they are much smarter and look more at the displayed content). Also, you can see the title and the page description in the search results when you Google a phrase.
Think the META title tag isn’t important for your web pages? Think again! The META title tag is the most important piece of information not to appear on your web page. The title tag is what shows up on the tab when you have a website page open. It is used in external websites and also is the highlighted linked text that is displayed in the results of a search. Refer to the diagram below. Not only do the search engine robots pay attention to the Title tag, but everyone doing a Google search will read what you’ve written. So what you write need to be relevant and readable.
Hints for good META Title tags
- Start out with the most important keywords. You may want to use a couple different ways of expressing your keywords.
- For small businesses / minor brands, I wouldn’t include them in the META title – just express what the product or brand does.
- keep the length to 65 characters or less (including spaces). Otherwise Google will likely cut off any words beyond this length.
- Try not to repeat words, but use different versions / tenses of the words (eg. Design, designer)
- Think about what people are going to think when reading your Title tag. This is sometimes tricky if you are also looking to do well with the search engines.
META Description (your elevator pitch)
The META Description is your chance to convince others to click through to your website. It is a couple sentences (up to 150 characters) that shows below the title in the search results. When you do a Google search, the words typed in the search box will appear bold in your description. Although Google announced in 2009 that the META description is not part of the ranking algorithm (Google Not Using Keywords or Description, part way down the page), it is best to incorporate the keywords in your description. That way the searchers will know that the page is relevant to what they are searching for.
Hints for good META Description
- Keep your description below 150 characters (including spaces)
- Include the keywords – people will want to see that the page is about what they searched for
- Sell the page! What is the page about and why should someone click the link?
The META Keywords are the list of phrases that are supposed to further describe the key points of the page. The key here is “supposed to”. In the early days of search engine optimization, it worked well to get your page at the top of Google by overloading the keywords section with any and all terms you could think of and them repeating them. As the search engines evolved, they no longer used the keywords. It has been since 2009 or earlier since Google stopped using the keywords. Up until recently we still included them in our pages – just in case there was a search engine out there which still uses the keywords META tag as a ranking factor. However, now, we do not use the keywords.
META Tag Conclusion
A website is not a complete website without META tags. Bottom line is that if you want to rank well and have people click on your website you need to do a good job selling your website pages not only to Google, but to people. Take some time, look at your website and tweak (or overhaul your META tags).
If you need help, you can always Contact Cityline Websites - a Surrey BC based company, but providing website and online marketing expertise world-wide.