Meta Tag Information - A Guide to Meta Tags

Meta tags really help with Search Engine Optimisation when used well.
Correct use of each Meta Tag can really help your website's SEO

What are Meta Tags?

When coding a website there is a special section of coding known as the Meta Information. This is code that you insert into the <head> section of your web page coding. The head section is a part of your website that gives the search engines and web browsers information on your web page.

After the <head> section comes the <body> section which is the part of code that contains the information on the content of your web page and how to display it to visitors.

6 meta tags to always include in your website as a good Search Engine Optimisation practice

Below are the six meta tags DeGal SEO recommend to always include in any web page you create as part of a good SEO working practice.

  1. Meta Tag http-equiv - <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="" />
  2. Meta Tag Author - <meta name="author" content=""/>
  3. Meta Tag Copyright - <meta name="copyright" content="" />
  4. Meta Tag Robots - <meta name="robots" content="" />
  5. Meta Tag Description - <meta name="description"content="" />
  6. Meta Tag Keywords - <meta name="keywords" content="" />

Http-equiv Meta Tag

The http-equiv meta tag provides information on the web pages content type (code language used) and character set. This helps browsers to understand the coding language used within the website to ensure the website is displayed properly.

This is one of the few tags you will find on nearly every website as standard. Although not directly related to SEO work we would always recommend on including this particular meta information.

Author Meta Tag

The author meta tag for indicating who has designed the web page. The advantage of including this tag is it is a coded reference to the provider of the page source. If this provider has an established network of well designed and good performing website's then it stands to knowledge the search engines may give a little SEO credit to further web pages coded by this provider.

Although only a small part of a pages SEO optimisation we do recommend including this meta tag as one of the 6 to always include.

Copyright Meta Tag

The copyright meta tag is important for protecting your page coding from being duplicated. Every website should always contain a legal statement detailing copyright for all content and images. This hard coded meta tag provides information and protection for your web page coding.

Again not directly relevant with regard a sites SEO strategy it is still something we recommend including on all website pages.

Robots Meta Tag

The robots meta tag is one of the most crucial meta tags to include from a SEO perspective. It is a meta tag designed purely for the search engine robots/spiders. As the search engines crawl your site and pages this tag indicates to them how to treat the page and outbound links within the page.

You can request they don't crawl or index the page and whether you permit them to follow outbound links within the page to index pages that link from this page. As DeGal SEO want the search engines to completely index our site and visit all the pages within it we use the below meta tag information to tell the search engines to index our whole website

<meta name="robots" content="index, follow"/>

If needed there is even a specific Googlebot meta tag you can use just for telling the Google search bot how to treat web pages within your website.

Description Meta Tag

The description meta tag in our opinion is the most important meta tag to optimise if you wish to gain the top organic search positions. This is a meta tag for giving a small summary of the content of the web page. The description should include the main keywords for the web page content and be written as grammatically correct English.

The reason for ensuring the description meta tag meets these criteria is that some search engines including Google will use this meta tag as the description for your website in the search engine results. If you want to get the clicks then providing a description that is relevant to a searchers query makes massive sense.

We strongly recommend creating individual description meta tags for every page within your business website. If you copy the same description site wide you may find the search engines especially Google will view your site as duplicate content or not relevant to the meta tag description's and therefore not index your website as high as website's it considers more relevant than yours.

If your website is providing site wide, unique content then the descriptions of each page should naturally differ! This is one of the biggest areas we see other SEO attempts go wrong as the same meta tags are implemented site wide! A description that may be perfect for a home page is usually not so good for the other pages and the search engines know this!

As a good SEO working practice we aim to make the home pages meta description relevant as a general description as to the whole website's content. We then work on each sub web page having highly focused and targeted meta tag descriptions relevant only to the individual web pages content.

Keywords Meta Tag

The keywords meta tag is for telling the search engines what the main words and terms you feel your web page is relevant for. These should naturally be the keywords or terms that you would want to come top of the search results for. Ensuring your keywords are then massively reflected in your on page content is crucial if you want SEO success.

Again these keywords should change across your site as each page should be providing different content. We have always found best results in keeping the number of keywords or keyword terms to a low number of highly targeted and specific keywords.

The search engines will also create other keywords and search terms to display your site depending on their opinion of your content once they have indexed your website.

Avoid keyword stuffing or unnatural keyword repeatition when completing this meta tag if you want to avoid being penalised. Also listing 100 words you think are relevant to your business on the landing page is a bad idea. Stick to the 4 or 5 core products or services and then create unique, highly optimised pages to cover the other keywords.

If you want an example of this in practice look at the web pages within this site and view the source to see our choice of unique meta tag keywords for every page. The keywords for this page are
<meta name="keywords" content="Search Engine Optimisation, SEO, Meta Tags, Meta Tag, Meta Information " />

Meta Tags - they may be out of sight but they should not be out of mind if you want Search Engine Natural Search positioning”

What is the character limit for Meta Tags including the description meta tag?

As experienced SEO experts we have found the most crucial thing is to provide an accurate and informative description tag! If you look at google results the description tags vary in word numbers and character lengths.

Making your meta tags grammatically correct or "human readable" is a must - the content and quality of your meta tags is the most crucial thing to consider not their lengths!

We have found Google will usually display the first 150 characters of your meta description with the rest being expandable so if you are attempting to immediately attract visitors then ensure the first 150 characters fulfil the "grab attention" role.

Do Meta Tags have any SEO weight?

There is a strong and growing voice that says the days of meta tags having any SEO relevance within the main search engines are gone. In the early days of the internet and search engines meta tags were a way you could exclusively and privately communicate as a webmaster/web designer to the search engines.

Webmasters quickly found ways to manipulate these meta tags and influence the search engine results to gain top natural/organic rankings. As a result the search engines have evolved to recognise these practices and either ignore them or penalise the website's still trying to manipulate them unethically.

Why bother with Meta Tags?

Google currently does not even recognise the keyword meta tag anymore due to the amount of abuse it has received. Our view is this is still a useful meta tag and if you ethically use it to provide end user benefit then however small the chance is there is a chance it may still help the search engines define your site as valid for those search terms and reward you.

It is good working practice, for page content, to have to work on which few keywords you are actually optimising the web page for. Since you have already done this hard work having a meta tag of keywords will not harm your site.

Remember the key goal to SEO is to create content that is valid to the visitor and not the search engines and proper use of meta tag information is a way to improve end user experience and add to the quality and quantity of traffic to your business website - this is a positive thing!

You have to design for your business website visitors first and then work on making sure this is also liked by the search engines second.

Meta Tags Links

A few links to help with your understanding of
Meta Tags and their SEO role

  • More information on the character set's available when you are designing and coding website's Not directly related to SEO but good background information.
    Click here to read about character encoding via
  • Google have a webmaster help page on Meta Tags. As you will see they pretty much only take in to account the description meta tag for SEO - hence our view this is the most important meta tag!
    Google Webmasters Help Meta Tags page
  • In the below Google Webmaster help pages there is information for changing your site's title and description within the search engine display information. There are some key points for creating good meta descriptions and we feel these will help you understand the DeGal SEO thought process
    Google's creating good meta descriptions webmaster help article

Contracting DeGal SEO to undertake your web sites SEO work is your guarantee of the very best possible when it comes to optimising your business web site.

We have a large number of sites we are actively optimising and we stay on top of all information released from the search engines regarding best practices. By all means contact us for examples of our previous SEO work for businesses.

We believe in transparency and happily reveal most of the methods we adhere to when undertaking SEO work within this site. Once you hire us as SEO consultants we will keep you fully informed of all our actions and provide ongoing reports and assistance as required so you can be safe in the knowledge we only utilise white hat methods.

Contact DeGal SEO re Meta Tags

Please use the web form below to contact DeGal SEO with any enquiries related to Meta Tags.

Meta Tag Tools

There are plenty of free meta tag SEO tools available

If you google meta tag seo tool you will find that there are plenty of free website's and tools you can use to analise your website's meta information or even create keywords for you.

When we analise website's we right click and actually view the meta information website's However we have found the below free meta tag checker tool to come in handy for a general idea of the meta tags being used and how well optimised a page is

A free to use online meta tag analysis tool…

This tool should only be used as a very rough guideline and not as an authoritive source on whether your website is fully optimised It is a computer program and as it is not programmed by a search engine then the results can not be relied on to achieve search engine success.

SEO specialists such as ourselves have an in depth understanding of the whole SEO package and it has taken years working in search engine optimisation to gain this knowledge so if you want the best results and more importantly the best return on investment for your business website then hiring a specialist SEO company is the sensible move!

Keyword research programme's should not be relied on. The best methods for keyword research are detailed on this page