The Ultimate Guide to SEO Meta Tags – Moz

Editor’s note: This post first appeared in April of 2017, but because SEO (and Google) changes so quickly, we figured it was time for a refresh!

Meta tags represent the beginning of most SEO training, for better or for worse. I contemplated exactly how to introduce this topic because we always hear about the bad side of meta tags — namely, the keywords meta tag. One of the first things dissected in any site review is the misuse of meta tags, mainly because they’re at the top of every page in the header and are therefore the first thing seen. But we don’t want to get too negative; meta tags are some of the best tools in a search marketer’s repertoire.

There are meta tags beyond just description and keywords, though those two are picked on the most. I’ve broken down the most-used (in my experience) by the good, the bad, and the indifferent. You’ll notice that the list gets longer as we get to the bad ones. I didn’t get to cover all of the meta tags possible to add, but there’s a comprehensive meta tag resource you should check out if you’re interested in everything that’s out there.

It’s important to note that in 2019, you meta tags still matter, but not all of them can help you. It’s my experience, and I think anyone in SEO would agree, that if you want to rank high in search, your meta tags need to accompany high-quality content that focuses on user satisfaction.

My main piece of advice: stick to the core minimum. Don’t add meta tags you don’t need — they just take up code space. The less code you have, the better. Think of your page code as a set of step-by-step directions to get somewhere, but for a browser. Extraneous meta tags are the annoying “Go straight for 200 feet” line items in driving directions that simply tell you to stay on the same road you’re already on!

The good meta tags

These are the meta tags that should be on every page, no matter what. Notice that this is a small list; these are the only ones that are required, so if you can work with just these, please do.

The indifferent meta tags

Different sites will need to use these in specific circumstances, but if you can go without, please do.

The bad meta tags

Nothing bad will happen to your site if you use these — let me just make that clear. They’re a waste of space though; even Google says so (and that was 12 years ago now!). If you’re ready and willing, it might be time for some spring cleaning of your <head> area.

There are so many meta tags out there, I’d love to hear about any you think need to be added or even removed! Shout out in the comments with suggestions or questions.

This content was originally published here.

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