SEO is a vital component of digital marketing. It’s often overlooked, ignored or misunderstood. If your site or content isn’t being found, it’s probably because you haven’t set the SEO sights correctly.
In this blog we will answer some fundamental questions about SEO that you can easily apply to your own business’ online platform. We will also highlight ten of the most important Meta Tags for optimising your SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of the traffic which comes to your website. SEO targets traffic that comes from search engines such as Google, targeting unpaid, rather than paid (or direct) traffic.
If you are new to SEO here is a checklist that will help you improve your SEO and user experience:
- Check that all your pages and content have title tags and meta descriptions
- Start paying more attention to your headings and how you structure you content
- Make sure all images have alt attribution text
- Search for duplicate pages and use canonical tags
- Create a checklist of the steps that you need to repeat when you create new content
- Make Meta Tags a part of your business routine
If we’ve already bamboozled you with the terminology then read on, below we’ll explain what these SEO terms mean.
What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are invisible tags that make it easier for search engines to determine what your websites content is about. Essentially you use specific tags to highlight the most important elements of your content. When the search engine reads these tags it will understand what your content is about and will show your content to people who are interested in it i.e. people who are searching for content within the search engine. There are numerous different types of Meta tags which fulfil different roles – not all are relevant to SEO. For example some Meta tags relate to page structure and will ensure that your page is easy to navigate. The Meta tags we are looking at today are those related to SEO.
Where are Meta Tags?
Meta Tags are found in the <head> section of an HTML document: They need to be coded in your CMS. Depending on the platform you use to power your website this may be quite easy e.g. Wordless have a dedicated section for meta tags or could be more difficult (but not impossible!)
Why do Meta Tags matter?
Search engines are increasingly placing value on customer experience. Part of this is ensuring that the customer is able to find the information they need easily and efficiently. Search engines rely on SEO to do this. So even though they are invisible to the customer Meta Tags are essential to ensuring customers find your business.
Below we will highlight ten of the most important Meta Tags for SEO.
Title Tags are the first thing a user will see on the search engine results page (SERP). Typically the title will be a clickable headline and is meant to provide a clear and comprehensive idea of what the page is all about. The title tag is located in the <head> of your webpage.
Best practice for title tags is to:
- Give each page a unique title that describes the pages content concisely and accurately
- Keep the title between 50 and 60 characters – a longer title will be automatically cut down by the search engine which may result in the loss of important keywords in the SEO
- Include keywords and put them first – but write in a natural manner. It doesn’t matter how many keywords you have, your title still needs to be engaging if you want the customer to click your link
- Make use of your brand name in the title, even if it doesn’t end up being shown in the SERP it will still make a different for the search engine
Meta Description Tags
Like the Title Tag, Meta Description Tags are also found in the <head> of the webpage. The Meta Description is commonly (but not always) displayed in the search engine results page alongside the title and URL. The description itself doesn’t hugely increase SEO however, for any business trying to increase click-through and polish their brands appearance having a great Meta Description is essential.
Best practice for Meta Description Tags:
- Give each page a unique meta description that clearly reflects what value the page carries
- Keep it to 150-160 characters (including spaces) as Google’s snippets typically max out here
- Include your most significant keywords so they could get highlighted on the actual search engine results page – but don’t make your description keywords only, ensure it makes sense as a readable engaging sentence
- You can also use a catch call-to-action, include a unique proposition you offer or additional hints on what to expect such as ‘Learn’, ‘Buy’
- The meta description doesn’t need to only be a sentence for example if the title links to a product page you could include the items price.
Heading Tags (H1-H6)
Heading Tags are HTML tags that are used to identify headings and subheadings within your content. There is some debate when it comes to which Heading Tag is most important. Some will say H1 is the most important, others believe that all 6 are equally important. Regardless of SEO headings are crucial for organising your text and content so should be taken seriously. Heading Tags are a good example of small details adding up to improve your SEO and user-friendliness.
Best practice for Heading Tags:
- Keep your headings relevant to chunk of text they are describing
- Avoid headings like ‘Chapter 1’ ‘Point 1’ etc – make them specific
- Don’t overuse tags and keywords. Keep headings readable
- Match your Title Tag to H1 – change the order of the words around but keep the same sentiment. If you are struggling to come up with a perfect H1 simply use your title again.
The image alt tribute is added to an image tag to describe the image. This description is important because search engines can’t ‘see’ images so rely on the description to understand it. The description is also important when visitors access your page – just in case the image can’t be loaded.
The image alt description is essential if you want to rank in Google Image searches.
Best practices for Image Alt Attributes:
- Do your best to optimise the most prominent images and those that are most likely to be
looked up in Google Images searches
- Add alt text on pages where there is not too much content apart from the images
- Keep the alt text clear and descriptive enough, use your keywords reasonably and make sure they fit naturally into the page
Rel=”canonical” Link Tag
The purpose of this tag to tell the search engine which version of a page you consider to be the main one and would like to be indexed by search engines and found by people. This tag is most used when the same page is available under multiple different URLs, or multiple different pages have very similar content covering the same subject. If you do not indicate which URL is the one you prefer, search engines may choose for you. That URL will get more views while similar URLs will be left behind. In this case you will still have traffic to your website so it’s not the end of the world, but it is less than optimal, especially if the search engine chooses the ‘wrong’ URL.
Best practice for rel=”canonical” Link Tag:
- Use on pages with similar content on the same subject
Social Media Meta Tags
Social Media Meta Tags let you control how a page would look when shared on social media. For LinkedIn and Facebook, you can use Open Graph, for Twitter you can use Twitter Cards. Social Media Meta Tags don’t have a huge influence on your ranking in search engines. However, by configuring how the links to your pages look you can greatly increase your CTR and UX metrics.
Best practice for Social Media Meta Tags:
- Add basic and relevant metadata using Open Graph protocol and test the URLs to see how
they will be displayed.
- Set up Twitter Cards and validate them once done