Is Meta Data Still Important for SEO?
Way back in the day, the meta data that you included in the code of your website played a large part in your search ranking. The search engine spiders used this information to determine what your website was about and ranked your site accordingly.
Of course, this meant that webmasters began taking advantage of the meta data by stuffing keywords and in some cases, included keywords that weren’t even relevant but had a high search volume just to try and increase their visitors.
The search engines smartened up and the meta data carries a lot less weight (and in some cases carries no weight) to determine ranking. So does that mean that it’s OK to just ignore the meta data? No. It’s still SEO best practice to implement it. Here’s why:
The title tag appears at the top of the browser window when looking at a page and is also the clickable link on a search engine results page. It’s indexed by the search engines and is the first thing that a spider sees. It qualifies the visitor. The title tag is what persuades them to click on the page so it must grab their attention and include relevant keywords so that they know that your website will have the content that they are looking for.
Google doesn’t use the description meta tag in ranking. That doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Both Google and Bing encourage webmasters to write concise descriptions since they are used as the snippet that a user will see on a search engine results page under the title. Sometimes a person browsing the web wants a little more information that what the title provides. The meta description allows for 150 characters of unique content per page that describes what is on that page.
Even if the keywords meta tag isn’t used as a ranking factor with the search engines, it’s still a way to keep track of the keywords that you are targeting on each page for your own records. It serves as a reference when creating a link building campaign so you know what the anchor text links pointing to the page should be. It certainly won’t hurt your site to include 2-5 relevant keywords in the keywords meta tag on each page.
Meta tags certainly won’t make or break an SEO campaign, but it fits in with everything else. Along with good high quality content, clean code, and a good URL structure, it’s SEO best practice to include meta tags.