ask the expert | Do I Still Need to Use Meta Tags for SEO?

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Today we have a very guest post from our website expert partner: Lucie Battaini from multimediART. she is answering an SEO question for us (because i always get asked about SEO and i really can't help much, but lucie can!)

Do I Still Need to Use Meta Tags for SEO?

A Meta Tag is A special HTML tag that provides information about a Web page. Meta tags do not affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they provide information such as who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content. Many search engines use this information when building their indices. from webopedia.com

First things first, it is important to understand that meta tags are not the only ace in the hold that will catapult your website or blog to the very top of all the major search engines.  There are many aspects to search engine optimisation, which all work together to decide your overall ranking.

But here's the thing, even though they are far from being a smoking gun, they can help to dramatically improve your search engine ranking if you use them properly for your on-page SEO. A properly optimised site can often need far fewer links to rank well than one that is not.

The key is to use meta tags in conjunction with other search engine marketing strategies so that you have a combined effort that helps your site rank better.  For the most part, search engines pay attention to what is going on in the body of the text on your pages in addition to the page's title.  Your content and title takes precedence over any meta tags. 

With this in mind, it is important that your title tag is always relevant on your page and is a match to the content you have posted in the body of the page.  This one thing will greatly improve how well you rank in the search engines, more than just focusing on meta tags alone.</p><p>Also, bear in mind that Google and other search engines now ignore the META KEYWORD tags.  So using them as a part of your SEO strategy is optional.  The most powerful positions in your meta tag structure are:</p><p><strong>TITLE tag (the keywords you use in your title)</strong></p><p>Open your browser and the top bar will display the title of a web page, and is also nearly always used as the text for the main link to your site in Google’s search engine results. Your title tag should tell the visitor AND search engines what the subject of the page is. The page title is one of the most important factors in on-page SEO. Creating a descriptive title that also includes your keywords should  be the aim for every page. Make sure to keep your title under 70 characters, and include the most important keywords right at the beginning.</p><p><strong>META DESCRIPTION (gives a snippet of what the page is about)</strong></p><p>While the meta description tag is not given much weight in directly influencing your SEO, there is a very important reason why you should still pay attention to it. In search engine results, the little snippet of text you see there under your site’s name  is nearly always your meta description. So while it may not be influential for your direct ranking position, it is highly influential when searches decide whether or not to click through to your site.</p><p>If you can write something compelling and include a call to action, you can almost guarantee a click-through from the search engine. The ideal length for the description meta tag is around 160 characters or less. Remember to include your keywords here as well.</p><p><strong>So how do I edit these?</strong></p><p>Meta tags are hidden in the <HEAD> tag of your HTML documents. If you use a content management system to run your site, chances are you’ll be able to edit these in your admin panel. Often, you can install plugins or add-ons to help you automatically generate these, for example for a large site or an online store with many products. To get the most value for your meta tags, put most of your focus on your page title and description tags.</p><p><em>for more help on SEO visit these posts on lucie's website:</em></p><p><a href="http://www.multimediart.com.au/search-engine-optimisation-whats-it-all-about/">http://www.multimediart.com.au/search-engine-optimisation-whats-it-all-about/</a></p><p><a href="http://www.multimediart.com.au/whats-a-keyword-and-what-do-i-do-with-it/">http://www.multimediart.com.au/whats-a-keyword-and-what-do-i-do-with-it/</a></p><p><a href="http://www.multimediart.com.au/using-seo-to-build-your-brand/">http://www.multimediart.com.au/using-seo-to-build-your-brand/</a></p><p><em>Lucie Battaini is the director and head designer at <a href="http://www.multimediart.com.au/">multimediART</a>, an experienced web design and development company that has been in business for 10 years. Posessing the rare combination of design skills and programming knowledge, Lucie loves helping other small businesses realise their online potential and achieve their dreams. <a href="http://www.multimediart.com.au/">multimediART</a>offer services in web design & development, seo and social marketing, as well as other online marketing and promotion opportunities. Our designs have won awards, and we're proud of every site we create.</em></p>