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Meta tags have been one of the basic building blocks of SEO since the early 1990s. They have historically played an important role in helping search engines understand what a website’s page is about, and how to categorize it correctly. At one time, meta tags were used almost exclusively by search engines to know what terms to associate with a page. Today, search engines are much more advanced, so many other factors are used to determine for which keywords a page will rank. However, meta tags still play an important role and can be powerful tools when used correctly.
What is a Meta Tag?
A meta tag is a piece of code that is contained within a web page’s HTML code that provides data about a webpage. These tags aren’t displayed on the page itself, just in the page’s code, typically in the <head> section. There are a number of different types of meta tags, but only a few are useful for SEO purposes.
The title tag is one of the few meta tags that has a significant impact on your page’s performance with search engines and with users. It contains the title of the page, helps search engines understand what a page is about, and is displayed in search engine results page (SERP). It is also often the first impression a user will have regarding your webpage. Therefore, having a well constructed and optimized title tag is essential in helping your page rank well with search engines. There are, however, some rules that a page’s title tag needs to follow to ensure your page both ranks well and avoids any possible penalties from search engines.
Optimizing Your Title Tag
In order to optimize your title tag, you want to first ensure that it is the optimal length and include your target keywords. Google will only display a maximum of 600 pixels, or approximately 50-60 characters of the tag. Anything beyond the maximum length with be truncated – and any keywords included in your tag that are cut off won’t help your page’s rankings.
Meta Description Tag
The meta description tag, simply put, contains a short description or summary of the webpage. They are short in length, generally between one sentence to a short paragraph. Similar to the title tag, the meta description tag is also visible in the search engine results page (SERP). However, Google may display a meta description that is different than the one in the tag by pulling text from other content that is on your page, if it helps to make a searcher’s query better.
Optimizing Your Meta Description Tag
In order to optimize your meta description, it needs to contain an accurate description of your page, and be the optimal length and format. Technically, descriptions can be any length they want, but Google will truncate descriptions after around 300 characters. So it’s best to keep descriptions between 50 and 300 characters.
Keywords contained within the description won’t directly increase a page’s rankings; however, if keyword in your description matches what a user has searched for, it will be bolded by Google. This helps to increase the CTR (click-through rate), which does have an impact on a page’s rankings. Therefore, if possible, include your target keywords within the description.
The BoldGrid Easy SEO Plugin makes this easy to do. Similar to the title tag, you can write and edit the meta description right from the plugin’s interface. It will automatically check to see if it is the correct length, and if you have included your target keyword phrase. This helps you to easily create an optimized meta description, or to edit and optimize existing descriptions.
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