The Three Essential Meta Tags You Need (Plus A Few You Don’t)

Meta tags are one of the foundational tenants of SEO, and are likely something you have at least heard about. However, the perception of them tends to be divided, particularly the keyword meta tags, which tend to suffer from misuse thanks to lack of proper understanding. The reality is, meta tags are often oversimplified in terms of their definition, and are usually skimmed when people first beginning training in SEO. This is a mistake, as there are numerous different kinds of meta tags, some of which certainly have a place on your site, others you’d be better off without. To help you distinguish which is which, here is a breakdown on the kinds of meta-tags that are absolutely necessary, and some that are either irrelevant or dead weight.

The Good Meta Tags

These are the ones that are critical to any webpage. Try to restrict yourself to using these if you can.

Meta Content Type: This tag is used to declare your character set for the page, and is something that should be present whenever you have text. Think of this tag as the one that tells the browser how to read your page: without it, how your page renders to visitors can be severely listed. There are a couple different kinds of meta content type tags out there, so you should rely on a website developer to handle it for you if you can.

Title: A major anchor in any SEO strategy, a title tag is used by search engines to be informed of what the subject matter of the page generally is. Because of this, you want to keep the titles on your site strictly functional and descriptive, as this will greatly determine how much relevant Google will determine your subject matter.

Viewport: This is a tag that is getting more important by the year, as it plays a key role in determining the user experience for mobile phone browsers. With mobile devices rising in popularity as a way to view content online, and Google’s algorithms continually catering more towards it, this is something you will absolutely need. Using this one can be a bit complicated for someone who isn’t well versed in SEO, so consider letting a professional implement them for you.

The Unnecessary Meta Tags

These are tags that either is needed for certain specific situations or have better alternatives to using them on your site. Remember, the more tags you have on your site the slower it becomes, and the more muddled it is to search engines. In other words, if you don’t need these, lose them.

Refresh: This is an old, outdated tag that you should phase out it if you can. By this point, all websites should have server-side 301 redirects, as Google frowns upon webpages that continue to carry this tag.

Expiration/Date: This is a tag meant for pages that will be removed after a certain date, which is inapplicable for the vast majority of website owners. If you have a page that you plan to remove, you are better off doing it manually.

Generator: A simple tag that states when the page is created. It serves literally no purpose to the developer, the visitor or search engines.

Author/Web Author: This is used to name the author who created the page. Unless you are trying to succeed as a blogger/writer and you want to be found by your name, this serves little more than an unnecessary addition.

You may have noticed that there are several tags that we didn’t cover, such as keywords, language and social tags. These are tags that are neither useless nor necessary, rather they serve specialized purposes who’s relevance largely depends on the functionality of your site. For these, we’d recommend you use your best judgement to determine whether they are necessary.

So as you can see, meta tags are likely a lot more comprehensive and complicated than you previously thought, and it’s about to get more complex as the search sector continually develops. If you feel like you could benefit from an expert’s approach when it comes to the construction and SEO management of your site, Boston Web Marketing is here to help. We have a team of SEO experts who are well versed and up to date on the latest happenings and changes with search engines and online marketing, as well as a web development team that can build custom SEO friendly sites for your business. Contact us at 857- 526- 0096 for more information, or fill out our online contact form. We’d love to work with you!

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