Following up last week’s post about how backlinks are used in SEO, I wanted to continue the discussion on some of the most basic SEO topics & terminology: meta title tags & meta description tags.
Unlike backlinks – which are part of off-page SEO efforts — meta title and description tags are part of on-page SEO efforts.
This means they can be added & updated directly on your website’s pages.
Before getting too deep into the use of these two important elements of SEO, let’s briefly review their basic definitions.
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Meta tag elements of a web page are used to provide information about that web page that can be used to quickly categorize it, without having to analyze the entire page’s content.
Besides the title and description, they can provide information like the type of web page (e.g. “article” or “blog post” ) and language.
A meta title tag is just as the name implies: the title of the web page which it’s applied.
These can be as simple as what the page is, (e.g. “About Page”), or are more commonly customized to offer more description (e.g. “About Company X | Our Team, Story & Mission”).
Again, as the name implies, a meta description tag provides a short description about the web page which it’s applied.
Continuing the example above, a description of the “About” page could be “Learn more about company x’s history, from its foundation to present day and the mission that drives it forward.”
Very simply, many search engines use meta title and description tags to help them categorize web pages for use in their search index.
As you can imagine, then, optimizing meta title & description tags is one of the oldest SEO tactics and still plays an important role in SEO today.
Like linkbuilding, though, meta optimization can be prone to abuse.
For example, using meta title and description tags that are unrelated to the web page’s content, but are intentionally added to potentially categorize that page for search ranking purposes.
Search engines have found ways to combat title tag abuse by rewriting them for use in their index and very often pull more relevant content from web pages for displaying descriptions.
Depending on how your website is built (or which platform you use), updating may need to be done by a web developer or web management company.
With SEO becoming more mainstream in recent years, many web platforms like WordPress or Wix offer quick ways to update your meta title & description tags without any advanced coding or technical background needed.
As for the actual content of your meta title and descriptions, keep them unique, concise, relevant to content on the web page and avoid keyword stuffing.
After reading this post, I hope you have a better understanding of what meta title and description tags are, how they’re used in SEO and some tips on updating them to help your local SEO and small business website.
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