How to Use Meta Tags As Part of Your SEO Strategy
Knowing how to write the perfect meta tags and descriptions can make a huge impact on your search rankings. The protocol for meta tags is ever-changing, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest developments to make sure you’re doing everything you can to draw traffic to your website.
Below, you’ll learn what meta tags are and how to best incorporate them into your SEO strategy to improve your online visibility.
Meta Tags Defined
Simply put, meta tags are HTML elements that give search engines and potential website visitors information about your web page and your business. Meta tags must be placed as tags in the <head> section of your HTML document.
Depending on your website host, meta tags may be more or less difficult to implement. Here is a list of each type of meta tag, its definition, and tips for writing:
Using Alt-Text for Images
Because Google can’t actually “see” your images, you need to write an optimized alt-attribute so it can “see” those images in words.
In fact, screen reader software uses alt-text to describe online images to those who are visually impaired. As a rule, write alt text that is clear, concise, and descriptive. Always avoid stuffing your alt text with keywords. While this is not a vital factor for ranking, it’s still important to ensure you are building a sound SEO foundation.
Using the Canonical Tag
When two identical pieces of content exist online (for example if you syndicate content from someone else’s website) you need to add a canonical tag. This will contain the URL to the original published article and direct ranking signals back to the original website. Adding a canonical tag helps search engines understand which page is the original and should therefore appear in search results.
In HTML, the canonical tag appears as such: <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://blueprintim.com/” />
In some cases, the article’s CMS will have a spot for you to copy and paste the original URL.
Using the Google News Meta News_Keywords
Google’s meta news_keywords enables users to specify the 10 most relevant keyword terms in their news articles, so Google is better able to understand the importance of your content.
Begin with this HTML tag:
<meta name=”news_keywords” content=”___________________”>
Then, simply fill in the blank with relevant keywords. It’s important to remember that this type of tag will only work if your site is in Google News.
Using the Google News Standout Tag
If you post an important breaking story on your website, you can tag it using the standout code, which looks like this:
You can also use a meta tag instead:
Something to keep in mind is that you should only use this tag if a piece of journalism is exceptional. If you abuse the standout tag, Google can remove you from Google News or ignore tags from your website.
Using the Google News Local Source Tag
One of Google’s newest innovations is the Local section of Google News. This new addition will bring up content from regional newspapers and blogs that would not appear in the national news otherwise. This type of tag is manually added by Google, so you cannot add it yourself.
Using H1 – H6 Tags
When someone visits your website, the H1 tag, usually composed of your headline or webpage name, is what users see at the top of your page.
The subheadings in an article are made up of H2 – H6 tags. It’s a good idea to split up your content with many H2 and H3 tags in a descending order that logically makes sense.
While it’s typical to use only one H1 tag on each page, this can differ if you use HTML5 and are able to use one H1 for each section.
Using Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are succinct paragraphs that appear beneath your webpage’s URL in search results and describe the purpose of your website. You should write your meta descriptions well, making sure they’re under 156 characters. The writing should be clear and relevant to both the headline and article content.
You should use a nofollow tag if you don’t want search engine crawlers to follow a particular link. For example, it’s a good idea to use nofollow for paid links from sponsored content or native advertising.
You should also use it for links for products exchanged for reviews or publicity as well as any content you do not trust.
Finally, make sure to use nofollow for comments on your website, which are notorious for spam. Once you use it, Google will not transfer any ranking signals over these links.
Simply add rel=“nofollow” to your link like this:
<a href=”https://www.blueprintim.com/“ rel=”nofollow”>EXAMPLE</a>
Using Noindex Tags
When you don’t want a page to be indexed, such as for pages you want to keep private, use a noindex tag.
To do so, put this meta tag in the page’s <head> section:
<meta name=”SEObot” content=”noindex”>
Using the Robots Meta Tag
When you use the robots meta tag, you’ll be able to specify that search engines shouldn’t index a particular page. You can also make it clear whether the links on a page should be followed or unfollowed.
Here’s how to place the robots meta tag in the <head> section of your webpage:
<meta name=”SEO” content=”noindex” />
Here are other ways to use the Robots Meta Tag:
If you don’t want a page indexed or the links on the page followed, use this:
<meta name=”SEO” content=”noindex, nofollow” />
If you want the page indexed, but do not want the page’s links followed, use this:
<meta name=”SEO” content=”index, nofollow” />
If you don’t want the page indexed, but you do want the links to be followed, use this:
<meta name=”SEO” content=”noindex, follow” />
If you don’t want images indexed, use this:
<meta name=”SEO” content=”noimageindex” />
If you don’t want a cached link to appear in search results, use this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noarchive” />
If you don’t want a snippet to be shown in the search results for a page, use this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”nosnippet” />
If you don’t want a translation to be available for a page, use this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”notranslate” />
Using Title Tags
Title tags concisely and accurately communicate what your site is about to visitors and search engines. When someone creates a query using specific keywords that appear in your title tag, these keywords are highlighted in search engine results, in your browser tab, and when you share your site externally.
In your title, you should accurately describe your page by including a few of the most relevant keywords. The title tag should also include the name of your brand. Finally, make sure the text you use is understandable to a human reader, not just to a search engine.
Here’s how to create your own title tag inside the <head> section in your website’s HTML: