The SEO landscape is constantly changing and evolving. As such, some tactics and assets that were once considered valuable and helpful in boosting a website’s SEO ranks, have either lost prominence or have been ditched in favour of other tactics.
If you are new to SEO, one of the key things that you may be wondering is whether meta tags are still relevant.
What are meta tags?
All the work involved in search engine optimisation can be classified into two groups: coding and context. Meta tags belong to the former.
Meta tags refer to the words that are hidden in your website’s code. This simply means that they cannot be seen by site visitors. However, they are read by search engines, giving them a glimpse of what your website content says. They are located on the head area of the HTML.
Falling out of favour
Meta tags have been used almost since the inception of SEO and were once a major factor in rankings. However, they fell out of favour because some practitioners abused their use. In turn, Google stopped using these as a ranking factor.
One of the major reasons why SEO experts have abandoned the use of meta tags is because they no longer play a crucial role in the ranking of a website.
Some SEO experts also caution against the use of meta tags because they believe that using these only allows your competitors to know which keywords you use.
Should you avoid using meta tags?
Although meta tags are no longer as powerful as they were once were, they can still be utilised to help boost your website’s SEO performance.
In fact, Google encourages the use of meta tags to help websites provide accurate and relevant information about these.
Specifically, you should focus your attention on the three most important parts of meta tags: the title, description and keywords.
The title tag or title text may not necessarily be considered as a meta tag, but it functions like one. It shows up in search engine listings.
The description provides a summary of your site’s content. Your goal here is to write a short and accurate description.
The meta keywords should contain all the keywords used in your site which can be beneficial in helping it rank well in search engines.
Your goal here is to ensure that the meta tags you use are related to your pages’ content. The meta description should be related to your content.
When using keywords, you should also think about how they could be used around the site. Is there an opportunity to use these meta tags as tags within your site too?
Tags (not meta) are publically visible, and usually clickable links to point your visitors in the direction of similar content. For example our Productivity tag, shows a list of our latest blogs around productivity. If we couple this with the non-visible meta keywords, we can not only boost our potential audience, but also our SEO in a clear and organized way.
The most important things to note when using meta keywords, is scan your webpage for the most prominent and key-to-the-content keywords or phrase, then take these, no more than 10 keywords or phrases, and put them into your “meta tags” box in order of importance.
Google and Bing have stated they no long use meta tags, however Yahoo still take these into consideration when processing their search engine algorithms. Make sure you choose meta tags that are visible words within the content (context), as otherwise you’ll be peanalised for “keyword stuffing”, which will negate any good SEO you’re trying to attract.