Tom Hall-Jones

A quick and easy guide to meta tags in SEO 2023

A quick and easy guide to meta tags in SEO​

What are Meta Tags?

From my over twenty years experience, still to this day I find so many websites that do not do the fundamentals to help their website or web pages rank. One of the first things I action is the Meta Tags to give some immediate quick wins if possible.

So, what are Meta tags? Meta tags are HTML tags that provide meta data about a web page. They are placed in the head section of any website page. Some are visible to users and some are not. Meta tags can be used to provide information to search engines, like Google, about the content of a page, including the page’s title and description.

There are several types of meta tags that are commonly used in SEO (search engine optimization). Here is a brief overview of some of the most important ones:

  1. Title tag: This is the title of the page as it appears in the search engine results. It should be unique, descriptive and should include the main keywords for which you want the page to rank.

  2. Description tag: This is a short summary of the content of the page that appears in the search results. You should write in a way to entice users to click on the page and should include the main keywords for which you want the page to rank.

  3. Keywords tag: This is a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant to the content of the page. Whilst search engines no longer use the keywords tag as a ranking factor it can still be useful to include a list of relevant keywords.

  4. Robots tag: This tag tells search engines whether or not to crawl and index a page. You can use the “noindex” value to prevent a page from being indexed and the “nofollow” value to prevent search engines from following links on the page.

  5. Canonical tag: This tag tells search engines which version of a page should be treated as the “canonical” or primary version. This can be useful if you have duplicate content on multiple URLs or if you have different versions of a page for mobile and desktop users.

Now lets take a look at meta tags and each one in more depth.

Why do Meta tags matter?

Meta tags are important for SEO (search engine optimization) because they provide important information to search engines about the content of any given page. This information can help search engines and people understand the context and relevancy of a page and can influence how the page is ranked in search results.

While meta tags are not the only thing that search engines consider when ranking pages they can still be an important part of your overall SEO strategy. Properly optimized meta tags can help increase the visibility of your website in search results and attract more targeted traffic to your site.

There are several types of meta tags that are commonly used in SEO, including the title tag, description tag and keywords tag. Each of these tags serves a specific purpose and can help improve the relevancy and quality of your website’s search engine listings.

Title Tags

The meta title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. You will find it in the head section of the page and is normally displayed in the browser tab or in the search engine results page (SERP) as the main link to the page.

The title tag is an important element of search engine optimization because it tells search engines and users what the page is about. It should be unique, descriptive and should include the main keyword or search term that you want to rank for.

Here are some best practices for optimizing your title tags:

  1. Keep it short and sweet: Aim for 50-60 characters including spaces.

  2. Make it relevant: The title should describe accurately the content of the page.

  3. Include your primary keywords: At the beginning of the title use the main keywords for which you want the page to rank.

  4. Use modifiers: Modifiers like “best,” “top,” or “review” can help make your title more attractive and improve click-through rates.

  5. Brand your titles: Including your brand name in the title can help establish your web page as a trusted source of information.

Below is the HTML code for the title tag:

<head>
  <title>Your Page Title Here</title>
</head>

The title tag should be placed within the head section of your HTML document.The text between the opening and closing title tags should be the title of your page.

Here is an example of a title tag:

In this example, the title of the page is “Best SEO services in the world.” This title will be displayed in the browser tab and in the search engine results page (SERP) as the main link to the page.

<head>
  <title>Best SEO services in the world</title>
</head>

Meta Description Tags

The meta description tag is an HTML element that provides a brief summary of the content of a web page. It is placed in the head section of the page and is displayed in the search engine results page (SERP) below the page’s title.

The description tag is an important element of SEO because it tells search engines and users what the page is about. It should be unique to the page, descriptive and should include the main keywords for which you want the page to rank. Please note that the meta description is not a ranking factor. You will also notice that search engines like Google may serve up a different meta description to be more inline with what a user is searching for so don’t be alarmed if you see something different in the search results.

Here are some best practices for optimizing your meta descriptions:

  1. Keep it short: Aim for 150-160 characters including spaces.

  2. Make it relevant: The description should accurately summarize the content of the page.

  3. Include your primary keywords: Use the main keywords for which you want the page to rank in the description.

  4. Write for humans: The description should be written to entice users to click on the page so make it interesting and compelling.

  5. Avoid duplication: Don’t use the same description for more than one page on your website.

Below is the HTML code for the title tag:

<head>
  <meta name="description" content="Your page description here">
</head>

The description tag should be placed within the head element of your HTML document and the text between the opening and closing “content” attribute should be the description of your page.

Here is an example of a description tag in action:

<head>
  <meta name="description" content="Learn more about the best seo services in the world, including how to rank a page.">
</head>

In this example, the description of the page is “Learn more about the best seo services in the world, including how to rank a page.” This description will be displayed in the search engine results page (SERP) below the page’s title.

Robots Meta Tag

The robots meta tag is an HTML element that tells search engines whether or not to crawl and index a web page. This tag is placed in the head section of the website page and can be used to block search engines from crawling and indexing specific pages on your website. You could also set this up as a separate file which is known as a robots.txt file.

The robots meta tag can be useful if you have pages on your website that you don’t want indexed by search engines such as staging or test pages. It can also be used to prevent search engines from following links on a page which can be useful if you have a page with links to low-quality or spammy websites.

The syntax for the robots meta tag is as follows:

<meta name="robots" content="value">

The “value” attribute can be one or more of the following:

  • “noindex”: This tells search engines not to index the page.
  • “nofollow”: Tells search engines not to follow links on the page.
  • “none”: Equivalent to “noindex, nofollow”.

Here is an example of a robots meta tag in action:

<head>
  <meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">
</head>

In this example, the robots meta tag tells search engines not to index the page and not to follow links on the page.

Canonical Tag

The canonical tag is an HTML element that tells search engines which version of a web page should be treated as the “canonical” or primary version. It is placed in the head section of the page and can be used to resolve issues with duplicate content on multiple URLs.

Duplicate content can be a problem for search engines because it can be difficult for them to determine which version of a page is the most relevant and authoritative. Using the canonical tag can help search engines understand which version of a page should be indexed and ranked in search results.

The syntax for the canonical tag is as follows:

<link rel="canonical" href="URL">

The “URL” attribute should be the URL of the canonical version of the page.

Here is an example of a canonical tag:

<head>
  <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/page">
</head>

In this example, the canonical tag tells search engines that the canonical version of the page is at “https://www.example.com/page“.

Header Tags

Header tags are HTML elements that are used to structure and organize the content of a web page. They range from h1 (the most important) to h6 (the least important) and are used to indicate the hierarchy of the content on the page.

Header tags are important for SEO because they help search engines understand the structure of the content on any page. Think of your webpage as a book. The H1 heading would be the name of the book and the remaining headings will be the chapters just like a book. Making sure that the layout is clear will not help search engines but your visitors.

Here are some best practices for using header tags:

  1. Use them to structure your content: Use header tags to organize your content into sections and sub-sections.

  2. Use them to indicate the hierarchy of your content: Use h1 tags for the main headings of your page, h2 tags for sub-headings and so on.

  3. Use descriptive and keyword-rich headings: Make sure your headings accurately reflect the content of the section and include your primary keywords.

  4. Use only one h1 tag per page: The h1 tag should be reserved for the main heading of the page and should not be used more than once.

Here is an example of header tags in a typical page:

<h1>Best SEO services in the world</h1>
<h2>Top-Rated SEO Companies</h2>
<h3>1. Company 1</h3>
<h3>2. Company 2</h3>
<h2>Best Self Employes SEO's</h2>
<h3>1. Self-employed 1</h3>
<h3>2. Self-emplyed 2</h3>

In this example, the h1 tag is used for the main heading of the page, the h2 tags are used for the sub-headings and the h3 tags are used for the individual listings.

Alt Text

Alt text (short for “alternative text”) is a attribute that is used to describe the content of an image in an HTML document. It is typically used when an image is not able to be displayed on a webpage such as when the image file is missing or the user is using a screen reader.

Alt text is important for SEO because it helps search engines understand the content of an image and can be used as a ranking factor. It is also important for accessibility because it provides a text alternative for users who are unable to see the image.

Here are some best practices for using alt text:

  1. Make it descriptive: The alt text should accurately describe the content of the image.

  2. Use relevant keywords: Include relevant keywords in the alt text to help improve the image’s search engine rankings.

  3. Keep it short: Aim for around 125 characters or less, including spaces.

  4. Use appropriate alt text for decorative images: If an image is purely decorative and does not add any value to the content of the page, use an empty alt attribute (alt=””) to indicate that it can be ignored by screen readers.

Here is an example of alt text in action:

<img src="seo-companies.jpg" alt="Best SEO Companies in the world">


As shown above, the alt text for the image is “Best SEO COmpaniesin the world.” This text will be displayed when the image is not able to be displayed and will be used by search engines to understand the content of the image.

Don’t forget to make sure your imaghe file name has the keyword you want to rank for in it to but do not go too keyword heavy.

How to Optimize your meta tags checklist

Here is a checklist of steps you can follow to optimize your meta tags for SEO:

  1. Use unique and descriptive titles: Make sure each page on your website has a unique and descriptive title that includes your primary keywords.

  2. Write compelling and keyword-rich descriptions: Write compelling and keyword rich descriptions for each page that accurately summarize the content of the page and entice users to click through.

  3. Use relevant and well-organized header tags: Use header tags to structure and organize your content into sections and sub-sections and make sure your headings are descriptive and include your primary keywords.

  4. Include relevant keywords in your meta tags: Make sure to include your primary keywords in your title, description and header tags to help improve your search engine rankings.

  5. Use the robots meta tag appropriately: Use the robots meta tag to prevent search engines from crawling and indexing specific pages on your website or from following links on a page.

  6. Use the canonical tag to resolve duplicate content issues: If you have duplicate content on multiple URLs make sure you use the canonical tag to tell search engines which version of the page should be treated as the primary version.

  7. Use alt text to describe images: Use alt text to describe the content of images on your website to help search engines understand the content of the images and improve accessibility.

By following these steps you can help improve the relevancy and quality of your website’s search engine listings and attract more targeted traffic to your site. It’s important to note that meta tags are just one aspect of SEO ranking. In order to achieve good search engine rankings you should also focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience and easy to navigate. Additionally, you should engage in off-page SEO techniques such as link building and social media marketing to improve the authority and credibility of your website.

About Tom Hall-Jones

With over twenty years experience helping businesses thrive in the ever changing digital landscape I have a mission to help even more businesses succeed online.

All of my reviews are based on my real life experiences.

Table of Contents