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Meta What? What are Meta Tags and what do they do?

The code behind your website is just as important when it comes to ranking on search engines - but what do you put? Start with the meta data and go from there
Your website code affects your ranking, start with the basics

Meta tags are simply small packets of information that you designate as having meaning for your website.

That’s a simple explanation as to what they are – you place them in the header section of your html and they provide search engines, social media, and any number of other sources, with information about your website.

What do meta tags do?

Meta tags are packets of information that provide search engines, and other sites, with information about your page and there are quite a few that you can use, but I’ll just take you through the important ones:

Title Tag

While this one doesn’t use the meta function it is still a meta tag, this tag allows you to dictate what you would like the title of your webpage to be

<title>This is your website title</title>

It should not be any longer than 55 characters including spaces. Google will only typically show this many characters in search results.

If it is longer than this is could be truncated and not show all the information you provide.

Meta Description

This is the description of your web page, and is pulled as the information used in the search results – it also allows you to say what the web page is about, increasing the potential click-through rate of your listing.

<meta name=”description” content=”This is an example of a meta description, this will be used in your listing.” />

It should not be longer than 155 characters, or it will be shortened in your listings.

This is an example of one of our meta descriptions, as you can see it is not too long
One of our meta descriptions, as you can see it’s not too long.

The one thing that is required to know is that sometimes your meta description does not get pulled through – but your page’s content does instead, with the words searched for appearing in bold. This isn’t as bad a thing as you’d imagine, in fact in can lead to a high click-through rate and shows that the page is considered to be relevant for the content the user is searching for:

What Google says about your listing

“Google’s generation of page titles and descriptions (or “snippets”) is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web. The goal of the snippet and title is to best represent and describe each result and explain how it relates to the user’s query.”- Google

When it comes to your meta tags, the two that I’ve mentioned will be able to get you started on your SEO journey and start to begin getting your website to rank higher.

I will be doing more tips and guides on different ways to help your ranking over the next few months, so be sure to come back to All Things Code and keep checking.

If you want to have a conversation about your website’s SEO, or if you would like more information about digital marketing – we at All Things Code have culminated years of experience in all avenues of the digital world. If you’d like to know more, just get in touch, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

Steve Archer

Head of SEO & Content