There is more to search engine optimization (SEO) than meta tag optimization, but properly written and optimized meta tags are definitely one of the fundamental building blocks required to get a website and its pages top ranked at Google.

Another way of looking at meta tags is this: if you do NOT use properly optimized page title tags and description tags, you will be at a huge disadvantage to a competitor who is using them, and who is targeting the same customers as your business does.

All of the pages and websites I’ve got top ranked at Google use optimized page title tags and description tags.

Of course, to get a website top-ranked I also use many other search engine optimization techniques and best practices.

How important are meta tags? When I start a new SEO project meta-tags are the first things I look at.

It’s important to understand what a page title tag is as well as what a description tag is. Again, both of these are commonly referred to as “meta tags” or sometimes just “tags.”

The first thing you should know is that meta-tags are behind-the-scenes code that your website visitors DO NOT see. Google looks for them and sees them if they are in place when it “crawls” your website. Here is what they look like if you look at the source code of a page.

Each page at your website should have unique meta tags, although they may be very similar. These tags should ALWAYS be descriptive of the page content.

Title tags can be up to 60 characters. Description tags can be up to 160 characters. Any keywords after these counts probably have minimal if any SEO value.

Meta tags should have descriptive TARGETED KEYWORDS in them that give Google the INITIAL information Google should know about your website (or a page). These same keywords will also be used and visible as page content to the real people who visit your website.

Avoid “stuffing” keywords into your meta tags. Google sees that too and will likely consider it as trying to manipulate Google search results.

The general rule of thumb here is: If a human being read your tags would they look normal and make sense to that person.

Think of meta tags as a tool to communicate the RELEVANCY of a web page to Google. Relevancy is one of the top three ranking factors in the Google algorithm (the other two are trust and authority).

Relevancy starts with page title and description meta-tags.

Google may use your page title tag as your page title on a search engine results page (SERP). Even if it doesn’t use it on a SERP, it will still see it and it will be a factor pushed into their ranking algorithm. Google may also use your description tag similarly.

Again, title and description meta tags are not the only variables in a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy, but these two “tags” are definitely something that you should understand and address properly throughout your website.

Action

Review your home page title tag and description tag? Are they in place? Are they properly written and optimized to reflect what Google is going to find on your home page and what a real person is going to read on a Google SERP? Do they contain the keywords you are targeting, the keywords people are likely using when searching for your products and services?

Now check all of your other pages.

Recommendation

If you built your website using WordPress the Yoast SEO Plugin makes it easy to manage page title and description meta tags.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/

Common Misconception

It’s not the WordPress plugin or an SEO tool that gets a website top-ranked, it is how they are used.

Additional Resources

https://www.portent.com/serp-preview-tool/

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