Meta Tags

How and why to use Meta tags

Website developers utilize meta tags to solve a number of problems when dealing with external clients that analyze a website's content. Buried in your web page are the recipe ingredients required by Google, Bing, Facebook, and Twitter to create your listing or a content summary. Each client website only processes the meta tags it can understand and ignores the others. Firstly they are used by search engines to providing pertinent information. Search engines read meta tags to rank content, but more directly, to produce tailored search results.

Secondly they explain to other external clients such as Facebook and Twitter how they should read your content, enabling the automatic construction of tweets and Facebook postings. This is especially useful when a service like AddThis share buttons are installed on your site. Meta tags enable your site users to recommend your content, be it articles, videos, or reviews with likes and shares.

What do meta tags look like

Meta tags are added to the <head> section of your HTML page. Below are meta tags taken from the <head> of

As stated previously, different clients can understand certain meta tags and ignore the rest. Google provides a list of the tags it understand at Meta tags that Google understands. The tags above are understood by google and pass information to build tailored search results. While <title> is technically not a meta tag, it is used together with the meta tag name="description". The content of the <title> tag is normally displayed as the title in search results, in addition to the user's browser. The meta tag name="google-site-verification" is added the <head> of the website to verify ownership for Search Console.

The meta tags above are, as you would expect, utilized by twitter to build a tweet from web page content. This is especially useful in conjunction with AddThis share buttons. When users share a piece of content, the Twitter meta tags automatically builds the tweet.

Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social networking sites use the Open Graph meta tags to interpret a website's content.

Which meta tags not to use

When meta tags were originally added to the

the meta tag "keywords" was king. The days of stuffing hundreds of keywords in a valiant attempt to increase search rankings are over. It is now universally ignored by search engines.