Did you ever wonder how Google actually goes about ranking the content you put up? Well a gigantic factor is the meta tags you use and if you don’t set them up correctly, it can affect your ranking. So let’s make sure that doesn’t happen and you do it right!
What are meta tags?
Simply put, they are short pieces of information on your page that tells Google what your page is about and helps it rank your site according to that information.
If you have ever wondered how Google is so good at ranking content that is relevant to what people type and that many times, whatever you search for on Google has results that have bold words, well that’s an example of meta tags in action and the sites that appear from the searches that you do, did it right.
There are 4 types of meta tags you need to know about:
1) The meta title:
Basically if you write an article or blog, the title itself is the meta title.
2) The meta description:
This is what appears on search engine results. When you type in something, get the results and it has a short description, that’s an example of it. It is also known as “snippets”.
3) The permalink tag.
Whenever you write a title, that title is typically turned into a link and another name for that link is the permalink. This is also commonly used by search engines to help identify a site’s content.
4) The meta keywords.
Meta keywords are simply keywords you insert into every page or post you write to basically tell Google “Hey, rank me for these keywords!”.
These 3 things are part of the whole meta description.
And when Google’s spiders land on your page, depending on what type of information they find on one or more articles for these 3 things, it CAN play a large part in how your articles rank.
An example of how one of my websites publicly shows 3 meta tags being used:
As you can see, when someone searches up the term “Work at Home EDU”, and my article appears, certain parts of my meta description appear BOLD in the search results and this is important for both ranking and getting people to click on the article (and it’s something you need to know to make the most of it).
A quick word about meta keywords (they don’t matter):
There are very complicated ranking factors that Google has, and not one of them gives keyword tags a lot of weight. So don’t worry about using them.
You can enter as many keywords as you want when writing an article and hope that Google will rank it, but in the end, they will use the 3 other meta descriptions you have up and the quality of your content to determine the ranking it has (as well as these 5 Google ranking factors).
So once again, don’t worry about keyword tags at all. In my cases, I always leave them blank.
How to correctly set up your other 3 meta tags (every time):
The best place to start is with a WordPress site and the following plugin installed: All in One SEO.
These 2 things will easily allow you to enter in your 3 meta tags.
- For meta titles (1), you will enter the title, and it will become the permalink (2).
- For the meta description (3), you will just fill it in on a box underneath your article.
And the rest kind of takes care of itself.
I recommend that you find low competition keywords for your title when writing it to make sure you get better exposure of that, and while the permalink will be filled in, make sure your meta description is short and basically explains what the title (thesis) or your article will be.
These things will ensure better ranking for your page overall.
What if you don’t have a WordPress website?
Well for starters I’d recommend moving to it since Google likes WordPress sites and this process is easier then. But if you’re in a position where you can’t move then there are other ways to set this up correctly:
Every time you write a title for a page, that will automatically be seen as a meta title for Google, so that’s handled.
If you write a simple 1-2 paragraph summary of your article, it will likely be picked up by Google as the meta description and used to appear publicly as the “snippet”.
As for permalink, while it is important that your meta title and permalink match, you may find yourself sometimes having to change the title of your article (because it might suck and be required to have more clickbait to attract more users), and if you do change the title, do NOT change the permalink.
Note: Meta tags will not guarantee high ranking in Google (but they will help).
Think of the 3 meta tags I said were important just now as a simple way to let Google know what your page is about. The easier you make for Google to rank your page and give it these 3 pieces of meta info, the better it’ll be.
But this will apply for starters and in order to rank better on and on the first page of Google, you’ll want to read about the tips I provide on that subject in that link.
6 important factors that will help your website rank better (meta tags aside):
- Mobile friendly sites (make sure your site is mobile friendly!).
- SSL (secure websites).
- Using low competition keywords in your title.
- Your website authority.
- Your site’s speed.
- Your content quality.
These would be what I’d mainly focus on.
Keep in mind that meta tags are easy to set up.
Especially when you get used to doing it! What most people need to understand though is that meta tags are not the end all when it comes to ranking, but are INITIALLY good for it and that’s what makes them important.
Focus on the other factors I mentioned above if you wish to see better rankings for your site on Google!
24 thoughts on “Why Meta Tags Are Important For Your Site to Rank on Google”
Good article! When I first heard the term Meta Tags, I had originally thought you just meant keywords but it makes sense to me now.
It is nice to know that the All In One SEO plugin does most of that work for you since I often forget to check in that area.
My question is when you say the 4th element does not matter as much, do you mean that adding keywords to each post isn’t as big of a deal if you have the AiOSEO plugin? I usually add 5 keywords to each article I write and I use that plugin.
It’s not a big deal because of the name tag analogy I used above Arie. The most important elements are:
1) Filled in via the All in One SEO so Google quickly sees what it’s about.
2) And the second is the title and content of your article, which is ultimately what gets the article you write ranked.
Adding in extra stuff doesn’t really do anything extra or speed things up.
Wow, I did not know that tags are not making any difference or even may harm the ranking. Thanks for sharing.
Anyways, it is easier to fill three elements, than four.
By the way, I am just curious. Do you have any idea why many recommend tags for YouTube videos? There is also a description under the video and the tags field.
I mean, YouTube is Google, and they may be using similar approaches. So maybe it is important for YouTube also?
Thanks in advance!
YouTube videos rank on Google’s search as well so generally, when I do a video, I will put in a few keyword tags I am trying to ran for. It can only help the video get better exposure on both YouTube and Google together.
Wow thanks for clarifying all of that Vitaliy.
I was never sure whether I was doing things correctly or not, there are so many youtube videos that throw words around like “Meta” and “tagging” but they don’t stop to explain what these things are. Now I also know to stop filling in every box that says “Meta” in WordPress!
I look forward to your featured articles. Are there any other articles you have written that you recommend to someone who is just starting out with website content creation?
I have a bunch of those Jon, but honestly, the best one out of them would have to be the recommendation I give to a program which teaches all of this stuff: Wealthy Affiliate. The other tutorials I write are very good for beginners, but they make much more sense when they are used as a supplement with the training in the program I recommend.
Great post Vitaliy,
I’ve always been confused by what people mean when talking about meta data and tags. I never really understood their importance until now. Do the meta descriptions need to be a certain length before they cut off by the search engines?
You separate the meanings and outline the explanations very well.
This is a big help!
Well meta descriptions can technically be as long as you want, but you shouldn’t really go crazy with this. I suggest a short sentence for your title, maybe under 10 words and it should fit fine for search engines.
Fantastic explanation! It’s easy to get confused when the word “meta” is used both in the SEO world and in the WordPress system. You’ve clarified quite well the importance of all three key pieces. If you could only use one premium tool for keyword research, what would it be? What tool should I check out?
Jaaxy Brandon, it is the best for that.
I had heard of meta tags but didn’t realize how important they were for Google ranking! Really informative info on meta tags and I found your blog post image example really helpful. I’ll be using your 3 key points to try and rank better from now on! Meta tags, low competition keywords and good relevant content. Now I’m off to read what you have to say about LSI! Thanks for such great information!
Oh you’re going to love the whole article I wrote on LSI, the whole concept of ranking is multiplied through this 🙂
This is another great article about the importance of S.E.O. I am a little confused about you saying the third element being the meta tags and all in one plug in automatically installing the meta tags.
Does that mean when I’m blogging and have the all in S.E.O. plug in installed on my word press site that I will not need to put the meta tags..or I do need to put them?
Can you please clarify thanks. All in all a great post on how to rank in Google! 🙂
Hi Howard, the all in one SEO does 2 things: It basically labels your website like a name tag for Google to see better. In addition it helps you customize your blog and page posts by labeling them with tags, which I do not do.
When you enter a title for a blog post or page, it automatically fills in the permalink (regardless if you have the all in one plugin installed) so through this automatic feature offered by WordPress, you fill in 2 necessary meta tags (title and permalink).
In other words, the All in One SEO is good for one aspect of your site, while the rest of the meta tags are handled automatically when you normally blog. The important thing to do is to properly write them down so the titles match the permalink and also have a low competition keyword phrase included in it. This will weight positively toward SEO.
I’m a bit confused with regards to the low competition keywords and the all in one SEO plugin though. Are you saying that if you have an all in one SEO plugin, you do not need to be targeting low competition keywords? Isn’t the targeting of low competition keywords what helps you drive more traffic to your site when first starting out?
You do need to target keywords Ishan. but you need to target them inside your blog posts and pages, NOT your All in One SEO plugin. I hope that answers it.
The info on tags was very helpful. I use WP but have found the plug-in SEO YOAST isvery helpful in getting the right info that Google likes on a page.
I have not used tags a lot (mostly keywords) but I am going to start now and see if it improves my ranking.
Thanks for the info.
I think you misunderstood Ed, tags are keywords and they are in your content. I basically said that you shouldn’t add them if there is a feature in your plugin that allows it and to let Google rank it.
Thanks Vitaliy. Extremely helpful to know how these are, say, rated by Google in their rankings. And it’s also good to know Google doesn’t focus exclusively on these but also on content authority.
I also use All-In-One SEO and there are about 5 other indices (Robots Meta NOINDEX, Robots Meta NOFOLLOW, etc.) with check boxes beside them that I never check off on posts. Are these valuable? If we are looking to rank should we pay attention to these?
Those are only valuable if you don’t want the post to get indexed by Google Larry and I would personally leave them alone. The only cases in which you would want to use those is if you want to hide a page from Google’s eyes and do things on it that Google may not like (add too many links, copy another post of yours, ect…).
In those cases, making the pages hidden via those options makes sense, but in most cases, like I said, leave it alone.
Meta tags have always confused me and you did a good job writing an article that I was able to understand. I just finished my first wordpress site and I’m adding the all in one seo plug-in tonight. This will save me some time and hopefully get me the results needed. Will I need to upgrade the plug in?
No, you can totally get all of the things I mentioned done with the free All in One SEO version.
Very interesting article! I have been using the All In One SEO tool on my website since I started it and yes, it is nice to not have to worry about setting up your meta tags by using this plugin. For the most part, I agree with your theory on not overly using keyword tags. I personally use them but only so I can track the performance of my keywords within my posts because I tend to forget otherwise. Thanks for the better understanding of meta tags!
Unless I missed a key feature of the All in One SEO, I don’t think it records the performance of keywords Rob. If you want that information, you can get that from Webmaster Tools. It’ll tell you that info, from an estimate.
If you do PPC, you also have the option to track progress, but none of those things have to do with the All in One SEO plugin.