Chances are you have a working knowledge of website development and/or search engine optimization (SEO), and you’re interested in learning more.
By now, you probably already know what meta tags are, or have at least heard them mentioned in website conversations. Meta tags work quietly behind the scenes in the source code of a web page and communicate with search engines about the kinds of content on a given page.
At Brown Bag Marketing, we have found that many people don’t even know that meta tags exist—let alone how they differ and how they can be utilized to improve your website optimization.
Different types of meta tagS
There are several different varieties of meta tags. Some are more important than others when it comes to optimization. The 2 main ones are title tag and description tag.
If you’re going to focus your efforts on one type of meta tag, it should be the title tag. A title tag is a 60-character summary of your webpage’s content that strives to reel your visitors in.
A description tag provides more details than a title tag. We prefer to keep ours between 120 and 160 characters.
Meta description mistakes to avoid
For the sake of this conversation, we’re going to focus on meta descriptions and some of the ways that they can be used incorrectly since these are most commonly misunderstood.
1. Too many characters
Search results are limited in what they can display, especially on mobile devices. This is why most developers shoot for 160 characters for desktop sites and 120 for mobile when it comes to meta description tags.
You can write descriptions that are longer than 160 characters. Keep in mind that Google will truncate your descriptions if they’re too long.
2. Too few characters
You can also make your description too short. It’s best if you get as close to your character limit as possible because you’ll be able to better promote your content. Descriptions that are too short run the risk of being labeled as lacking substance and quality.
3. Description doesn’t match content
The whole reason for the use of meta descriptions is to give a brief snapshot of your content. If you don’t accurately reflect what’s in your content in your meta description, it won’t be used properly by search engines and you could have your content incorrectly ranked and/or indexed.
There are instances where creators will reuse their meta descriptions across multiple websites or pages. Google experts have made clear that they dislike duplicate content, and this includes meta descriptions. Use unique descriptions for each page.
5. Keyword stuffing
Sure, using keywords is important in your meta descriptions; however, they need to be used naturally. Write a compelling and persuasive description that will make searchers want to click on your listing and find out about your offer.
6. Boring taglines
Meta descriptions are supposed to be enticing and draw visitors to your site to read your content. To do this, you really need to give them a reason to stop scrolling. Make your description eye-catching and engaging.
7. Not using meta descriptions at all
Even if you make any of the above mistakes, at least you’ve put forth the effort to include a meta description. Not using these descriptions is the biggest mistake of all that you can make. Sometimes, Google and other search engines will auto-populate your missing description tag, but it’s not guaranteed that this tag will be optimized for your target keyword.
Hopefully, now you’re a little more familiar with meta tags and why they matter. Utilizing meta tags can help you see a significant improvement in your traffic and the engagement on your pages.