When you run a website, one of your goals is to get more people to come to it. That is why there is such a strong focus on so-called “search engine optimization” (or “SEO”) strategies. SEO strategies try to assist you in getting your website to place well in search engine results, so that people who search for the type of information contained in your website will find your website through search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo.

What Are Meta Tags?

One of the most misunderstood and misapplied SEO theories relates to the use of “meta tags.” Meta tags are a part of the HTML code that makes up your website. “Meta” in this context means information about information – in other words, information about what your website is and what kind of information it contains.

Meta tags appear inside the < HEAD > … < /HEAD > tags at the top of your web page. Their basic format is to first state the name of the meta tag (there are many different types), then its content. So if you run a website about bicycle repair, your website might include a meta tag like this:

[< META name=“description” content= “Everything you need to know to fix your bicycle and get back to riding.” >].

For a description meta tag, an appropriate length is a couple dozen words or less.

Are They Still Relevant?

In the early days of the Internet, search engines relied heavily on the meta tags of a website to determine what that website was about, and to rank that website appropriately in the search engine results. The problem was that website owners can set their meta tags to be whatever they want. Some websites would misidentify their content so as to place high in search results. Adult-oriented websites were often the worst offenders.

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In addition, some websites used a process known as “keyword stuffing,” where they would simply include a list of dozens, or more, of keywords that pertained to information people commonly searched for, in the hopes of placing high in the results for a greater number of searches. Because of these abuses, the major search engines have long since stopped relying on meta tag data to determine where a website should place in search results.

Your Meta Description Tag

Meta tags do still have a significant role to play in the overall success of your website. When your website does appear in the search engine results page, a summary description of your site will be given. Google takes the information you have provided in your meta tags to determine what to display in the summary.

The most important meta tag for optimizing your search engine conversions is the meta description tag. A sample of this tag is given above. Try to make the description within the content field something that is going to entice someone to visit your site when they see that description on a search engine results page.