The first and most important thing to say about Meta Tags is that they are not the SEO magic pill that many people believe them to be. Too many people concentrate too much on Meta Tags when tweaking their search engine optimisation, unaware that the days of these tags working as super SEO tools are over.
Meta tags are the small code snippets that you will find sitting between the HEAD tags, and they are important and relevant to the post you are writing. Traditionally they were always used as a way of categorizing and organizing the Internet, but once webmasters and SEO experts saw their potential for gaming the rankings, they very quickly started to abuse the meta keywords and meta descriptions by filling them up with keywords totally unrelated to the page. They did this in order to promote their site up the rankings but of course Google and other search engines got wise to this trick very quickly.
As a result, nowadays the search engines refuse to give any significant value to Meta Tags and many search engines have abandoned Meta keyword tags altogether. For example, Google now completely ignores Keyword Tags and will only index using the Google Meta Tags.
That being said there are still a few steps you can take to ensure you get your Meta Tags right:
Title Tags – Title tags are the most important tags. In fact, Title Tags are the only essential tags on the page and if they are written correctly, can be very useful to the success of your website. Title Tags are used by every single search engine and are the very first words the spiders will use in their index and the very first words that people will read about your site. When you write your Title Tags, make sure you write between four and eight words and use those words to both entice the reader into clicking through to your page, whilst at the same time bearing in mind the keywords you have identified as useful for the search engines. However, as with all content, make sure you write for your audience primarily and then for the search engines.
Description Meta Tag – Many people believe that because Google have stopped using the description tag it is now unimportant. This might be partially true but it remains nevertheless a crucial element on your page. That is because the Description Meta tag provides search engines with a decent and (hopefully) accurate description of your site and even though Google have started using excerpts from the page itself for their own descriptions, nearly all of the other search engines are still using the Meta description that you provide. Your description should cover the contents of the page and should read well, including one or two keywords; most importantly though it should be limited to two sentences and must be an interesting read. This will help you both with the search engines which still use the Meta description as well as providing a decent backup for Google if their spider cannot find a worthy snippet from your page. Lastly, remember to have a separate and unique Meta description for every page on your site as this increases the chances of it being indexed.
Keywords Meta Tag – As mentioned above, keywords Meta tags are of little importance these days, thanks to webmasters and spammers. Keywords are the chief ingredient of good SEO but the meta tag has little relevance. A few search engines like Yahoo still support it in principle but even in their eyes it is of low value.
Robots Meta Tags – This is the standard protocol for letting the search engines know that there is stuff you want excluded. You might want stuff excluded because there are some pages on your site that are not ready to be seen or are not fully developed. For such cases you would use robot meta tags.
About the Author: Alex is a freelance copywriter. He currently writes a blog for the Bedouin Group on finance and the contracting sector, covering everything from taxation to umbrella companies.