In our article titled Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Keywords Meta Tag, we discussed the reasons why you should stop focusing on keywords meta tags. Google decided that because of widespread misuse, they would no longer be a focus. Instead, other on-page and off-page optimization techniques should be used that will have a real impact on ranking. And, while keywords meta tags may no longer be of use, there are other types of meta tags that you should continue using that are recognized by Google. The below list is not exhaustive however it does cover all of the meta tags recognized by Google, any meta tags not recognized by Google have been ignored.
Meta tags are added to the <head> section of the HTML page and typically look like this:
<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=Edge,chrome=1″> <meta name=”description” content=”Organize anything, together. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, know what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.”>
Google Recognized Meta Tags
The following list includes the current Google recognized meta tags.
- Description: <meta name=”description” content=”A description of the page” />
- Title: <title>The Title of the Page</title>
- Robots: <meta name=”robots” content=”…, …” /> and Googlebot: <meta name=”googlebot” content=”…, …” />
- No Site Link: <meta name=”google” content=”nositelinkssearchbox” />
- No Translate: <meta name=”google” content=”notranslate” />
- Google Verification: <meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”…” />
- Content Type: <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”…; charset=…” /> and Character Set: <meta charset=”…” >
- Refresh (Redirect): <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”…;url=…” />
Google Recognized Meta Tag Descriptions
<meta name=”description” content=”A description of the page” />
Description meta tags provide a short description of the page, and should be unique for each page. A readable tag that contains important keywords and entices the searcher to click on your link is the goal. They can be any length; however typically will work best at 160 to 170 characters long. Anything longer will likely be truncated by the search engine so it is important to write quality description meta tags.
<title>The Title of the Page</title>
The title tag is not actually a Meta tag, however it is listed here because the title tag is most often used in conjunction with the Meta Descriptions. Like the description, the title is important because it will likely be shown as the page title in search results just above the description when searchers are provided their results. Read more about Google recognized meta descriptions and titles.
<meta name=”robots” content=”…, …” />
<meta name=”googlebot” content=”…, …” />
It is the robots meta tags that directs how the search engine crawling and indexing behaves. Above you see two examples. The “robots” meta tag is for all search engines while the “googlebot” tag is Google specific. By default, the values are “index, follow” which is the same as “all”. They do not need to be specified, however there are other values that must be added to the tag. If you are using multiple tags, they can be separated by a comma as shown in the above example =”…, …”. The following list of values are used to modify search engine behavior.
- “noindex” – The page will not be indexed.
- “nofollow” – The links from this page will not be followed.
- “nosnippet” – A snippet will not be shown in the search results. In other words, the page will be removed from all search results.
- “noodp” – The alternate description from the ODP/DMOZ will not be used.
- “noarchive” – A cached link for the page will not be shown.
- “unavailable_after:[date]” – Allows you to set a date to end crawling and indexing.
- “noimageindex” – An image that appears will not show your page as the referring page.
- “none” – This is used to apply both “noindex” and “nofollow”.
<meta name=”google” content=”nositelinkssearchbox” />
The site links search box is sometimes displayed for specific websites, as well as other site specific links. Using this meta tag will stop Google from showing this box for your site.
<meta name=”google” content=”notranslate” />
In some cases, the language your website uses is not likely to be the language the searcher would like it to be. When it is determined that this is likely the case, Google will place a translate link in the search results. While this is a great way to broaden your reach, there are sometimes scenarios when this is not preferred. In those cases, this meta tag will remove the translation link and any translation provided by Google.
<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”…” />
Including this tag on the main or top page of your website allows you to verify ownership of it through Google Webmaster Tools. Google will provide you the input data for “name” and “content”. The site verification tag must match what is provided exactly and is case sensitive. Your site will then be considered “Google Verified”.
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”…; charset=…” />
<meta charset=”…” >
A site’s content type and character set are defined using these meta tags. It’s important to note that the content type value should be surrounded by quotes. Failure to do so may cause the character set to be misinterpreted. It’s also recommended by Google to use Unicode/UTF-8 when it’s possible.
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”…;url=…” />
In some cases, you may want a user to be redirected to another page or site after a set amount of time. This meta tag allows simple way to do this. The caution is that not all browser programs support this code and confusion can result. It is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium that this is not the best meta tag to use. Google instead recommends using a server-side 301 redirect in its place. If your site is built in WordPress we recommend the Simple 301 Redirects plugin.
The Importance of A/B Testing Your Tags
Description and Title Meta tags should undergo a/b testing. If you are unfamiliar with the process, a/b testing (also called split testing & multi-variant testing) is a method of comparing two different versions of a web page to see which one performs better. For testing tags, you would simply post two separate versions of the same page, but using a different set of tags. Then, both pages go live and are shown to similar visitors over the same time period. Using your analytics, the two pages are compared to see which version has a better conversion or click-through rate. By testing your tags, it allows you to confirm the success of any new design or change to your webpage. Instead of simply guessing and hoping that your tags will bring success, a/b testing will prove what is performing and allow you to make decisions about any code changes with actual data.
Other Meta Tags
There are many different meta tags that are used and the level of helpfulness they provide is debated. Below is a short list of a few types of meta tags that can be used.
- Authorship markup meta tags that provide information about the author of your content can also help with your rank. Google is ranking content from authors they decide are reliable sources.
- Social meta tags including open graph tags can help you gain an edge in the growing world of social media. Using the various tags can help grab attention and gain valuable clicks, and can even optimize how your content will appear in an individual’s social media timeline.
Professional Meta Tags and SEO
With so many changes that occur in SEO, partnering with an experienced and professional digital marketing firm can be a huge help. Many of us are not as in-tune to the trends, nor do we have the experience and knowledge to include meta tags in our web pages effectively. This makes Finding the right SEO company especially important. At Cohlab, we pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of SEO and are dedicated to ensuring our clients experience real success.
Use our complimentary Digital Marketing Scorecard to gain valuable insight on how your website compares to others. We’re also glad to answer any questions you may have and provide Cohlaborative digital marketing solutions to meet your company’s needs.