Let’s master meta tags! Discover what meta tags are, learn how they can influence your website’s search engine rankings and user experience, then find out how to write good title tags and meta descriptions of your own.

Do you ever get the impression that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the wild west of digital marketing? Heck, even for the hardened seasoned pros on our team, keeping up with the latest SEO tools, trends and best practices can feel like a downright Sisyphean task. Ugh, and don’t even get me started on the constant search algorithm changes. But, like many things in adulthood, we do SEO because we have to – and when you do it well, it works.

Which brings me to today’s topic of discussion: meta tags.

At its core, SEO is about enhancing your website’s visibility and user engagement. To this end, meta tags play an important role in summarizing, contextualizing and prioritizing content on your site to the benefit of its search engine ranking and user experience (UX).

While there are a number of meta tags that your site may use, for the sake of time and sanity, let’s focus on the two biggies: title tags and meta descriptions.

Meta Tags and SEO

Search engines like Google use meta tags to understand the content of your pages. More than just data, users can see meta tags in action whenever they view a Search Engine Results Page (SERP): the title tag is the headline of your webpage in search results, while the meta description provides a brief overview of the page’s content.

Are meta tags still relevant in the age of AI-powered search? Yep! Even as search engines evolve with AI capabilities, they still rely on meta tags to understand the content of web pages.

What’s the importance of meta tags? Well-optimized title tags and descriptions can lead to higher rankings, more click-throughs and increased traffic. It’s not just about including keywords; it’s about creating relevance and context for what your webpage offers. Which is why it should be part of your SEO strategy.

How Meta Tags Appear In Your Website Code

How Meta Tags Translate to SERP Entries

Meta Tags and UX

Over the past few years, user experience has become an increasingly important part of SEO. As the name implies, UX is the overall experience of a person using your website including its usability, findability and value.

Good UX leads to longer site visits, lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates. Meta tags contribute significantly to UX by improving site accessibility and providing clear, concise information about what each page contains. This clarity helps users navigate your site more efficiently, leading to a more positive experience and, in turn, better engagement metrics that are favored by search engines.

Creating Effective Meta Tags

Now that you have a good grasp on what SEO meta tags are and why they’re so important, you’re probably wondering how to write meta tags that work. Here are a few tips and tricks.

For Title Tags

  • Length: Keep your title tags around 50-60 characters to ensure they display properly in search results without being truncated.
  • Keywords: Place important keywords close to the beginning of the title tag to emphasize relevance, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Relevance and Clarity: Ensure your title accurately reflects the content of the page. It should give users a clear idea of what to expect when they click the link.
  • Uniqueness: Each page should have a unique title tag to avoid confusion in search results and improve SEO.
  • Brand Name: If space allows, include your brand name, especially if it’s well-known. This can be placed at the end of the title.
  • Avoid Duplication: Make sure you don’t have duplicate title tags across your site as this can negatively impact SEO.
  • Compelling and Descriptive: Write a title that is appealing and gives a reason for the user to click on it.

For Meta Descriptions

  • Length: Aim for about 155-160 characters for your meta descriptions to ensure they are not cut off in search results.
  • Include Target Keywords: While meta descriptions don’t directly influence rankings, including relevant keywords can help users see how the page relates to their search query.
  • Reflect Content: The meta description should accurately summarize the content of the page, giving users a clear expectation of what they will find.
  • Call to Action: Use action-oriented language to encourage clicks, such as “Learn more,” “Get started,” or “Discover.”
  • Make It Engaging: Write in an engaging, readable manner. The goal is to capture interest and compel users to visit the page.
  • Avoid Duplication: Like title tags, each page should have a unique meta description to avoid issues with search engines and improve user experience.
  • Match Search Intent: Tailor the meta description to match the search intent of your target audience.

Remember, while meta tags are important for SEO, they should always be crafted with the user in mind. The goal is not just to rank well, but to attract and inform users, ultimately leading to better engagement with your site.

Tips, Tools and Resources

If this seems like a lot so far, I totally get it. Search Engine Optimization has a lot of moving parts and meta tags are only a tiny portion of it. If you feel like rolling up your sleeves and diving in, here’s a good place to start:

Adding Meta Tags to Your Website

For those using WordPress, plugins like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO can simplify the process of creating and managing meta tags. These tools provide guidance on length and keywords while giving previews of how your tags will appear in search results.

Learning More About Meta Tags

There are a lot of really good resources out there to help you learn more about meta tags and SEO in general. Some of my favorites are SEMRush, Hubspot and Moz. You can also subscribe to our Field Tips email for a bi-weekly roundup of what’s going on in the world of digital marketing, including SEO.

Figuring Out Where to Start

If you’re not quite sure where to begin, conducting a comprehensive website audit can be helpful for identifying gaps in your meta tag strategy, and highlight missing tags, duplicate content issues and opportunities for optimization.

You’re Not Alone, Partner

The world of SEO is ever-evolving and, quite frankly, more than a little intimidating, but staying on top of these changes is crucial for maintaining your online presence. Regularly reviewing and updating your meta tag strategy is not just recommended; it’s essential for ensuring your website remains visible and appealing to both search engines and users.

If you’re unsure where to start or how to effectively optimize your meta tags, Responsory is here to help. Our team is ready to dive into your website to identify areas for improvement and ensure your meta tags are performing at their best. Contact us today to learn more about our website audit capabilities and start your journey towards a more impactful, engaging online presence.

About the Author

A lifelong dinosaur enthusiast and amateur Egyptologist, Aimee Dierbeck aspired to become a museum curator from a young age. As a bright-eyed anthropology major interning at a local museum, she realized that her true passion for museums did not lie in the artifacts or fossils themselves but in the stories they told and how these stories were communicated to the public. From this revelation, her academic interests and subsequent career took a significant turn into marketing, graphic design, copywriting, and, eventually, web strategy. In her role as Director of Web Services, she leverages her love for storytelling and digital curiosity to curate intentional, impactful experiences.