Meta tags are HTML code tags that are written in the header of a website. They bring both search engines and customers to your website. What are meta tags? What is the difference between meta title and meta description? How to write them in a way that makes them relevant to bots and attractive to readers?
In the article you will learn:
- What are meta tags?
- Why should you fill them in?
- How to insert a meta tag on the web?
- What is meta title and how to write it?
- What is meta description and how to write it?
- Does it make sense to fill in the keyword meta tag?
- Practical examples.
- What other meta tags are there?
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are among the on-page factors of search engine optimization. They briefly describe what is found in a specific URL and help search engines navigate the content of a website. The most well-known meta tags are the meta title, meta description and keyword meta tag. In addition to being used by search engines, they also appear in search results where they can persuade users to visit a site.
Why is it important to fill in meta tags?
As we said, filling meta tags is important from the point of view of bots and SEO, as well as from the point of view of customers and site traffic.
- Search engines use meta tags to better understand what your page’s content is and rank it higher in search results. The meta title is primarily used for this purpose.
- Potential customers see meta tags in search results. If they are well written, they can convince a customer to click on them. They therefore have a direct impact on CTR (click-through rate). The meta title and meta description serve this purpose.
To be successful, you need to combine both. Even the best meta description won’t get someone to click on your page if it’s buried on the tenth page of search results. But equally, a first position won’t ensure you get high traffic if you write a crappy meta description.
Inserting meta tags on the web
Meta tags can be inserted in two ways: in the administration, or with HTML code.
1. In the administration
If your site has an administration that allows you to fill in meta tags, there’s no reason to make it more complicated. When you add a new page (product, blog article, or anything else), simply fill in the box provided for this purpose. This may look a little different in each administration.
2. HTML code
If for some reason your administration doesn’t allow direct meta tag insertion, you’ll need to use HTML code to help you. Tags are inserted in the page header – between the tags.
- Code for meta title
- Code for meta description
- Code for meta keyword
Now, let’s finally look at how to write meta tags that work.
Meta title: The most important meta tag of all
Meta title plays a role for both customers and bots. It is the most visible of all meta tags and search engines give it the most weight. In addition to showing up in search results, you can also see it in the browser tab.
How to write a successful meta title?
- The ideal length of a meta title tag is 30 to 60 characters including spaces. A longer title may no longer be displayed by the search engine. A shorter title, on the other hand, means that you have not made sufficient use of the space available. (In fact, the number of characters, not the number of pixels, determines the length of the title displayed. So, you can try a longer title, but be sure to check that you can see it all.)
- The meta title should contain a keyword. But naturalness always comes first, so don’t try to put it in the title at all costs. Don’t be afraid to inflect the keyword or use the plural – the search engine can handle it. Ideally, the keyword should be at the beginning of the headline.
- Put the brand after the vertical bar or dash.
- The meta title must describe the content of the page as accurately as possible. It should be clear to readers briefly what the page is about.
- In order to attract internet users to click on the page, the title should sound enticing. If you can, be original, differentiate yourself from the competition and highlight what you have to offer visitors. In the meta title, focus on your competitive advantage.
Tip: Use the alt+0150 keyboard shortcut to type a hyphen (don’t confuse it with the hyphen that’s on your keyboard), and alt+124 to type a vertical bar.
Examples of a well-written meta title
Imagine a translation agency called Translate. It produces all kinds of translations, and its competitive advantage is speed. It has a subpage on its website where it offers translations of specialized texts, and it wants to optimize it for the keyword “specialized translations.” The meta title of this subpage might read something like this:
- Expert translations within 24 hours | Translate.com
In contrast, the author of the How to Translate blog, who wrote an article with advice on how to do professional translations, can create a meta title like this:
- How to do professional translations – tips from practice | howtotranslate.com
But we don’t have to make up examples of meta title tags. Just open a search engine and get inspired.
What is a meta description?
A meta description (called meta description in English) is a piece of code that describes the content of a given page, appears in search results just below the meta title, and is intended to entice users to click through and visit the site. Search engines don’t pay much attention to the meta description. Therefore, focus it on potential customers, not bots.
How to write a good meta description?
- A meta description should be between 110 and 160 characters long, including spaces. As with the title, a longer description may no longer be displayed by the search engine, while a shorter description means a lot of unused space that you could have used to convert customers.
- Use keywords naturally in the meta description. It makes it easier for readers to navigate – after all, the search engine displays them in bold. You can inflect and time them freely. Don’t be afraid to use diacritics either.
- You want the potential customer to click on your page in the SERP. Therefore, add a CTA. A call to action or call to action is an instruction that clearly tells the person what to do. For example, it might sound like this: “Take a look at our offer.” It’s proven that when you tell a customer what to do, they’re far more likely to do it.
- Be as specific as possible about what’s on the page.
- With your meta description, you want to convince the reader to choose yours from all the search results. Differentiate yourself from the competition and highlight the benefits you bring to the visitor.
Meta description: Examples
Let’s start with a concrete example from practice – from myTimi. We have a page on our website that offers our marketing services. The meta description of this page reads:
- A marketing audit will reveal all non-functional processes and show you how to win more customers for less money. Build your strategy with myTimi.
Our next page offers web development and is optimized for the keywords “web page” and “programming”. Its meta description is as follows:
- Dominate the online market with progressive coded web page. Computer programming, also known as coding, might be just the right path for you.
Are you lacking poetic guts? Or are you just not sure how to do it? Contact us and we’ll write the meta tags for you.
The keyword meta tag is often listed as one of the main meta tags – along with the title and description – but it’s not actually used anymore.
In the past, it was used to specify a few keywords that best described the content of the page. However, many people abused this and inserted dozens of words and phrases into the tag just to get their page to rank as well as possible. The search results were then inaccurate and did not match the actual content of the page.
Therefore, search engines have stopped considering the keyword meta tag and do not give it any importance. Filling it in will not affect your ranking in the search results. At the same time, this meta tag is not visible to readers either. Therefore, there is no reason to fill it in.
What to watch out for with meta tags: you won’t get far with duplication
The ban on duplication applies not only to meta tags, but to content marketing in general. Search engines don’t like it when anything is copied anywhere on the web. It doesn’t matter if you’ve copied someone else’s site or simply used the same text on two URLs on your own site. All content must be unique.
That’s why every URL on your site should have a unique meta title and meta description. This is even if the pages are for nearly identical products that differ only in color, for example. A light blue floral T-shirt must have a different description than a dark blue floral T-shirt. (Assuming, of course, that each has its own URL.)
Don’t expect results right away
If someone tells you that an increase in organic traffic will come immediately after filling in the meta tags, don’t believe them. The real results of search engine optimization (SEO) take months – sometimes if two years.
What happens if you don’t fill in the meta tags?
The search engine will automatically generate the meta title and meta description for you. The problem is that the automatically generated text may not describe your page well, contain keywords or entice you to click through.
Therefore, think carefully about which pages are important to you and you want to ensure a good position in search results and high CTR, and which ones are not worth it, and you can make do with automatically generated meta tags.
It doesn’t end with the meta description and the caption: More meta tags that are worth knowing
The meta title and meta description are the basic meta tags you may encounter, and they are quite sufficient in the beginning. But for the sake of completeness, we must mention that there are other meta tags.
1. Meta tag robots
The robots meta tag gives recommendations to the robots that crawl and index the web. It covers two main areas: URL indexing and links.
- By typing “index” or “noindex”, you can recommend to the robot whether to index the page.
- By typing “follow” or “nofollow” for a link, you recommend to the robot whether to follow that link.
What is this good for?
- There are probably some pages that you don’t want the search engine to index and then display in the search results: a shopping cart page, for example. For these URLs, it’s a good idea to put “noindex” in the meta tag.
- It’s possible that your page links to someone else’s site. If you don’t want to guarantee that the other side of the link isn’t a cyber threat or pornography, for example, fill in “nofollow”. While the robot will get to the other side of the link, it will not assign you a negative ranking for it.
2. Meta tag rating
You can use the meta tag rating to mark content on a page as suitable for adults only. This way, the page won’t show up in safe search results that are designed for children and filter out inappropriate content.
3. Meta tag content language
The content language meta tag clearly tells search engines which language the page is intended for (not what language it is written in). What is it for? Imagine you are a private Spanish teacher in the Czech Republic. You put a Spanish exercise on your website. So, you are in a situation where the content of the page is in Spanish, but you want it to reach Czech customers. That’s when you use the content language meta tag.
There are several meta tags. For more information on all of them, which Google search understands, see Google Help.
Be number one in search results (not only) thanks to meta tags
Getting to the top of search results is a chore. And getting customers to click on your page titles and descriptions amidst a siege of competitors is even more so. We’re here to help.
- We’ll analyze your site from an SEO, UX and UI perspective and advise you on what to work on.
- We’ll write engaging copy for you – from meta tags to blog articles.
- We’ll create a brand-new website that’s search engine optimized from the start.
- We’ll move you ahead in search results – with the right keywords, meta tags and linkbuilding.
Interested? Just write and arrange a free consultation where we will discuss your situation and suggest the most effective solution.