As the landscape of SEO continues to evolve, so too does the role of meta data. In the early days of SEO, keyword stuffing was all the rage. Webmasters would stuff their meta tags full of keywords in an attempt to game the system and boost their rankings.
But as Google and other search engines have become more sophisticated, they’ve been able to better understand the context of a query and the content on a page. As a result, keyword stuffing has become less effective and can even be penalized by Google.
Today, meta data is more about helping users find your content than it is about gaming the system. According to one leading SEO services provider, meta tags like the title tag and meta description are still important, but they should be written for humans, not for search engines.
What Is the Role of Meta Data in SEO?
Meta data is information that is added to a website or web page in order to provide additional details about the content. This information can be used by search engines to help index and rank the site or page, as well as by social media platforms to generate previews (e.g. when a link is shared on Twitter or Facebook).
Meta data generally consists of two parts: tags and attributes. Tags are typically short, one- or two-word descriptions of the content, while attributes provide more detailed information. For example, a meta tag might simply be “keywords”, while an attribute could be a list of those keywords (e.g. “dog”, “cat”, “pet”).
In order for meta data to be effective, it needs to be included in the code of a website or web page. This can be done manually, but many content management systems (CMS) and other website-building platforms will automatically generate and insert meta data based on the content you enter.
Most Important Meta Data Elements for SEO
The title tag is still one of the most important elements of SEO, so make sure it’s clear, concise, and relevant to the topic of your page. The meta description is also important, as it’s often used as the snippet of text that appears below your listing in the search results. Again, make sure this is well-written and relevant to the content on your page.
In addition to the title tag and meta description, there are a few other meta tags that can be used to help improve your SEO. The robots meta tag can be used to tell search engines whether they should index a page or follow its links. The canonical meta tag can be used to specify the preferred version of a page if there are multiple versions available.
And the Open Graph protocol, which is used by Facebook and other social media sites, can be used to add meta data to your pages that will make them look great when shared on social media.
While meta data is still important for SEO visibility, its role has changed over the years. Meta tags should now be written for humans, not for search engines. And in addition to the title tag and meta description, there are a few other meta tags that can be used to help improve your SEO.