What is the role of meta tags in SEO?

I have just started learning SEO and I am a little confused about meta tags. What is their role and how do they contribute to improving a website's SEO?

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Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page's content, but they do not appear on the actual webpage itself. Instead, they reside in the page's HTML code. To a typical user browsing your site, meta tags would not be visible. However, they provide information about the webpage to search engines, which utilize this information in various ways. In terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), meta tags play several pivotal roles: 1. **Title tag**: This is the most important tag from an SEO perspective as it tells search engines what a specific page is about. It's displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) as the clickable headline. A good title tag should be relevant to the page content, unique for every page, and within 60-70 characters. 2. **Meta Description**: This tag gives a brief summary of your web page content. Although it does not directly affect the search engine ranking, a well-crafted meta description can enhance the click-through rate (CTR). So, it’s best if it's enticing, relevant, and within 155-160 characters. 3. **Meta Robots Attribute**: This tag instructs search engines about which pages or parts of the website to crawl or index. These include "Follow/NoFollow" that tells crawlers whether or not to follow outbound links on the page, and "Index/NoIndex" that tells crawlers whether or not to index the page for search results. 4. **Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc)**: These tags help separate your web content into sections that are easier to read and utilize. They're vital indicators of content structure to the search engines. Typically, a page should have only one H1 tag but can have multiple H2s or H3s as subheaders. 5. **Alt Tags or Alt Text**: These tags are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Alt tags, also known as "alt attributes" or "alt descriptions," are used by search engines to understand image content. Remember, while meta tags are fundamentally important, they are just one piece of the vast SEO puzzle. Considering factors like keyword optimization, content quality, user experience, and a myriad of other on-page and off-page SEO practices are equally vital. Just make sure the meta tags are aligned with your content and serve to enhance not just search engine understanding but user experience as well.
Answered on August 23, 2023.
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