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SEO can be a bit like an onion, with each layer representing a different optimisation task or effort. SEO meta data is one of the most important layers; the sooner you peel the layer away, the better.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of enhancing your website to improve it’s visibility in search engines.

This involves optimising your website’s on and off-page content, technical configuration, and link profile so that your website is more relevant to user search queries.

As you optimise your website, search engines will rank it higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). This means more visitors to your site and, ultimately, more conversions.

What is SEO Meta Data?

Meta data, or meta tags, are snippets of code that tell search engines information about your web pages, like how they should be displayed in the SERPs. Meta data is only visible in your website’s HTML code.

Meta tags dictate how your website appears in search results; they tell the browsers how to present your website on different devices, ensuring it’s displayed properly on both mobile and desktop. Having your website displayed properly will help your rankings. 

There are several types of meta tags: meta titles, meta descriptions, robot meta tags, viewport meta tags, meta charset tags, and meta refresh redirect tags.

SEO Meta Data Best Practices: Why Are They Important?

Meta data is very important in SEO. Not only does meta data help you rank on search engines, but it’ll also improve the experience for people visiting your website. 

But there’s a right and a wrong way to do meta data. If you do it the wrong way, your website will be penalised by search engines. So, how can you ensure your meta data is optimised correctly?

That’s where our SEO meta data best practises come in.

Below, we’ll take a look at the best practises for implementing SEO meta dataWhen you know how to create meta tags properly and resolve any issues associated with them, your website will become very attractive to Google, and you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.

SEO Meta Title Best Practises

An SEO meta title is the page title that search engines display in the SERPs. Their purpose is to give searchers an idea of what the content is about and how it’s relevant to their query. 

Think of it like a shortened or simplified headline. The meta title is usually the piece of information that helps users decide whether or not they’ll click on your link. 

We typically see four common issues with meta titles:

  1. They’re too long or too short.
  2. The page doesn’t have one at all.
  3. There’s more than one title tag per page.
  4. There are duplicate title tags across multiple web pages on the same domain.

Take some time to look through your site and note if you spot any of these issues. With a few SEO meta title best practises under your belt, you’ll be able to resolve these problems and start improving your rankings. 

Here are the top eight best practises to follow when writing your SEO meta title. 

  1. Write an original title tag for each page.
  2. Include the target primary keyword as close to the start of the title as possible. 
  3. Keep it under 60 characters.
  4. Avoid anything generic or cliched — get your creative juices flowing.
  5. Go for something engaging.
  6. Ensure the title matches the search intent of the keyword (for example, an informational title tag could be something like, ‘How to Apply Lipstick’, whereas a transactional title tag might be ‘[Brand Name] Lipsticks’.
  7. Don’t clickbait — this will just result in a high bounce rate.
  8. Follow sentence or title case.

That’s where our SEO meta data best practises come in.

SEO Meta Data Best Practices | What You Need to Know

SEO Meta Description Best Practises

An SEO meta description summarises the main content on your web page in 160 characters or less.

Search engines use it for the snippet you see below the title tag in the search results. Its purpose is to interest readers with a short description of what your page is about and help them determine whether or not the page is what they’re looking for. 

While a meta description isn’t a direct ranking factor, it’s still useful to search engines and users who are trying to understand your content. 

When it comes to meta descriptions, we tend to see the same four mistakes that we see with meta titles. 

  1. They’re too long or short.
  2. The page doesn’t have one at all.
  3. There’s more than one meta description per page.
  4. There are duplicate meta descriptions across multiple web pages on the same domain.

Our best practise tips are similar, too

  1. Write a unique meta description for each page. 
  2. Use the primary keyword somewhere in the meta description.
  3. Keep it under 160 characters.
  4. Summarise the content accurately.
  5. Use sentence case.
  6. Match the search intent of the keyword.
  7. Keep it engaging, but avoid clickbaiting.

You’ll notice a theme appearing in our SEO meta data best practises: keep your copy accurate, relevant, engaging and concise. 

SEO Meta Data Best Practices | What You Need to Know

SEO Meta Robots Best Practises

SEO meta robots tell search engines how to crawl your web pages. Using the wrong attributes in your meta robots tag can have a significant — and potentially dire — impact on your site’s position in the search engine results.

If your robot tags are incorrect, your page might not appear in the SERPs. You’ll need to understand these tags and use them correctly to ensure your page is presented properly on Google. 

These are the following meta robot tags you can use: 

  • Index: This tag tells website crawlers to index the page. When a page is indexed, it can be seen on the SERPs. This should be your default if you don’t add other tags.
  • Noindex: This tag tells bots not to index the page. This means your page won’t appear in the SERPs.
  • Follow: This tag tells bots to crawl links you’ve added to your webpages and will lead the visitor to these other pages. This is also the default if you don’t add any other tags. 
  • Nofollow: This tag tells bots not to crawl the links you’ve added to your webpage. It signals that you don’t vouch for these links. Sometimes, websites use this as a safety net to let search engines know they’re not using spammy link techniques. 
  • Noarchive: This tag tells the bots not to cache or show the page. 

You can combine these SEO meta robot tags in these ways:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow”>

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”>

<meta name=”robots” content=”index, nofollow”>

You can also use <meta name=”robots” content=”none”>, which is the same as noindex, nofollow. Failing to set a meta robots tag will set your tag to default, which is equivalent to index, follow.

There are a few common mistakes website owners make with meta robot tags.

  1. Noindexed pages become blocked by robots.txt, which prevents search engines from seeing the noindex tag. The search engine then may index the URL.
  2. A rogue meta noindex tag stops the search engine from indexing the page, meaning your site won’t garner organic traffic.
  3. A rogue meta nofollow tag stops the search engine from crawling the links on the page, which prevents it from being discovered and indexed. 

So, what are best practices for SEO meta data robot tags?

  1. Only use them when you want to restrict the way a search engine crawls your page. 
  2. Don’t block pages with robots.txt meta tags.
SEO Meta Data Best Practices | What You Need to Know

SEO Meta Refresh Redirect

Meta refresh redirect tags tells the web browser to redirect a user to a different URL after a certain amount of time. 

Unlike the aforementioned SEO meta tags, meta refresh redirect tags shouldn’t be used. They are not supported by all browsers and can be confusing to the user. 

The best practise for SEO meta refresh redirect tags is to remove them where possible and replace them with 301 and 302 redirects instead.

SEO Meta Charset Best Practises

SEO meta charset tags set the character encoding for your website. They tell the browser how the text on your web pages should be displayed.

The two most common meta charset tags are:

  • UFT-8: This is character encoding for Unicode.
  • ISO-8859-1. This is character encoding for the Latin alphabet.

If you use the wrong character encoding, your characters will display incorrectly on the browser. Not only does this result in a poor user experience, but it can also prevent other sites from linking to your page. 

If your charset tags are used incorrectly, search engines won’t understand your content. As a result, you may experience a high bounce rate and low time-on-page. 

With this in mind, what are the best practices for SEO meta charset tags?

  1. Use a meta charset tag on all webpages.
  2. Use UTF-8 where you can.
  3. Use correct syntax for HTML.

SEO Meta Viewport Best Practises

SEO meta viewport tags are used to instruct the browser how to render your page for different screen sizes. The presence of a viewport tag lets Google know that the web page is mobile-friendly. 

This is important because Google ranks mobile-friendly web pages higher in mobile search results. 

Best practises for SEO meta viewport tags are as follows:

  • 1. Use meta viewport tag on all web pages
  • 2. Use the “standard” tag

When your SEO meta data tags adhere to these best practise techniques, your website will be presented properly in the SERPs and your rankings will improve as a resultWork through your web pages and ensure each of your meta tags follows these guidelines. 

Your rankings will thank you for it.