Not everything you see on a visible web page contributes to how well you do in search engine rankings. A lot of that magic is hidden away in the coding of the site.
One big factor that contributes to successful SEO is having the right meta data in place – it’s the code that speaks to web crawlers and defines what your page is all about, in some part determining which searches it shows up for. There are numerous components to meta data and each has its own uses. The most common ones are the following:
These are small snippets of code that define your page. They actually appear on search engine results – the title and description of the page that comes up when you type in a search query.
- The Meta Description: This is a short outline of what the page is about and needs to be no less than 11 words and no more than 150 characters long. This is an opportunity not only to put in a keyword or two but create a more engaging description that gets the user clicking on your link. If you don’t put a meta description in your page coding, you’ll automatically get the first 150 characters of your main content.
- Title Tag: This appears at the top of the individual listing and is 60 to 65 characters long. It’s normally similar to the title of your page and is the best place to put your primary keyword. For maximum benefit in SEO terms this should be as close to be beginning of the title tag as possible.
Other Meta Data
Other meta data can be used to communicate the language of your site and location as well as prevent duplicate content or identify the attributes of particular products on your site. Two important areas are:
- Robots: These are used to give search engine crawlers some simple instructions such as whether to index a page or follow links.
- Image Tags and Alt Attributes: This is one area that businesses tend to forget about but can be important for identifying the URL for specific images. Alternative attributes are used for improving accessibility for those with vision or mobility problems, providing a text explanation of the image.
The Importance of Meta Data
Good meta data management is vital if you want your site to appear on searches, whether that’s on the global stage or for more local results. There are rules for using each piece of meta data if you want to give individual pages have their own identity.
If you are currently wondering why your website isn’t figuring too highly in Google search engine rankings, it may because your meta data needs a closer look. It’s not the only factor that determines whether you end up on that all important first page or not but it certainly makes a significant contribution.