Meta Tags That
Originally Published Jan. 2015 | Updated Sept. 2022
Due to widespread misuse of keyword meta tags, Google no longer focuses on keyword meta tags. They now focus on other on-page and off-page optimization techniques that will have more of an impact on your rankings. And, while keyword meta tags may no longer be useful, there are other types of meta tags that you should continue to use.
How To Set Up Meta Tags For Google
To set up meta tags, you need to add them to the section of the HTML page. Your meta tags should look like this (omit the * when using/adding meta tags):
<*meta name="description" content="Donec sed justo eu enim consequat fermentum eget ut ante. Sed sit amet tincidunt lacus, eget condimentum arcu.">
<*meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">
What Meta Tags Does Google Use
The following list includes meta tags that Google uses. This is not an exclusive list of meta tags. You can add other ones that are important for your website, but Google will ignore any tags that it does not recognize.
- Description: <*meta name="description" content="A description of the page" />
- Title: <*title>The Title of the Page
- 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" />
- No Page Read Aloud: <*meta name="google" content="nopagereadaloud">
- Google Verification: <*meta name="google-site-verification" content="…" />
- Content Type: <*meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="…; charset=…" /> and Character Set: <*meta charset="…" >
- Refresh: <*meta http-equiv="refresh" content="...;url=...">
- Viewport: <*meta name="viewport" content="...">
- Rating: <*meta name="rating" content="adult"> and <*meta name="rating" content="RTA-5042-1996-1400-1577-RTA">
<*meta name="description" content="A description of the page" />
Meta tag descriptions should provide a short, unique description of the page. A readable tag should serve a clear purpose and give the website owners a much-needed competitive advantage in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), increase click-through rates, and turn more visitors into conversions.
Your description can be any length, however, the optimal character length is 155 – 160 characters. If your description is any longer, Google may shorten or replace sections with ellipses to make it fit.
<*title>Title of the Page
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 is shown as the page title in search results just above the description when searchers are provided their results.
Similar to meta descriptions, title tags also have an optimal character count of 50-60 characters. For more best practices on creating a title tag, check out How To Optimize Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions For Google Search Results.
<*meta name="robots" content="…, …" />
<*meta name="googlebot" content="…, …" />
The robots meta tags are how search engine crawling and indexing behave. 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 is 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.
- “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”.
Other Meta Tags
Site Links Search Box
<*meta name="google" content="nositelinkssearchbox" />
When a user is searching for your website, Google might display a search box along with other links to your site. This will tell Google not to show this search box.
<*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 might be the case, Google will place a translation link in the search results. While this is a great way to broaden your reach, there are some scenarios when this is not preferred. In those cases, this meta tag will remove any translation options provided by Google.
<*meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="…; charset=…" />
<*meta charset="…" >
A site’s content type and character set are defined using the above 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.
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 Media & Open Graph Tags
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 feed.
Professional Meta Tags and SEO
With so many changes happening with SEO, partnering with a digital marketing firm can be a huge help. Many companies aren’t up to date with the trends, nor do they have the experience and knowledge to include meta tags in 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.