Meta tags are invisible tags that search engines use to determine the meaning of a web page. Meta tags have significant influence on SEO, especially local SEO. This is due in part to the indifference many local web designers have towards meta tags. They are crucial to validating the relevance of title, keywords, and the short meta description to the rest of the content. They inform readers about what to expect from your page. More importantly, they help search engines to know what to expect. Getting the meta tags right is a critical step to getting your page ranked.

While most bloggers are aware of meta tags and descriptions, most business people are not. There are many different types of meta tags and using the right ones can give your business a clear advantage over your competitors.

Use only those meta tags that you NEED. Remember, these are markers of relevance. Fine tune them and deploy.

Essential meta tags include:

Title tag

It informs the web browsers and search engines about the nature of the content. It describes the page and should be unique for each new page. Your main keyword should be in the title tag. Add modifiers and long tail keywords where you can. But take care that the title tag is not too contrived and sounds artificial.

Description

Search engines display the meta description on search result pages. The description helps the web searcher decide whether they will click on the link or not. It takes on added significance for ads. The copy needs to stimulate clicks. Try to keep descriptions below 160 characters. Google truncates long descriptions. Like titles, meta descriptions must be unique.

Robots

These meta tags are used by search engines to determine pages that should be indexed. Use these tags judiciously to prevent duplication of indexed content and boost content that you want to rank on the SERPs. A robots meta tag gives you greater flexibility than commands via robots.txt. According to Yoast, thin content pages can have a negative impact on your website’s SEO. You may not want pages with thin content pages to be indexed even though the pages are essential for the site.

Alt tag

Optimized images can drive traffic to your website. Links embedded in images serve to direct traffic to desired pages. The correct choice of keywords for alt tags can enable your images to rank high. The alt tag can be used to gain an advantage over competitors by getting people to arrive on your landing pages. Along with the tag, a pithy description of the image provides further information for the reader and lends context to the content.

Header tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) provide structure to the content and are used by the search engines to understand the hierarchy of the content. Use keywords and key phrases in header tags that you want to rank for. These tags are a great opportunity to buttress the main keyword with long tail key phrases and get SEO benefits. But go easy on them. They are powerful SEO pointers for search engines. Use them as a tactic to inform search engines about the direction of your content.

These are the most important meta tags but there are others. A canonical tag, or “rel canonical,” tells search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. They help prevent problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Viewport meta tags tell a browser how to render a site on a mobile devise. Google uses it to verify the mobile readiness of a website.