How to Optimize Metadata for SEO

What is Meta Data? What are Meta Tags?
Meta data provides information about a site. This information gives search engines an idea of what a site is about. Since meta data is hidden away in a site's markup, visitors can't see it, but search engines can. There are several types of meta data, but we're going to talk about the three most important parts that make up meta tag optimization: meta keywords, meta descriptions, and the robot tag.
Meta descriptions are actually one of the few things that visitors will see, but they won't see it on your site. Here is an example:
Bob has a site about sports cars and in his meta description, he has written, "The ultimate guide to European and American sport cars." 
When someone searches in Google with the term "sports cars," Bobs site may show up in the results. If it does, the listing will show his meta description. In short, meta descriptions tell people what a site is about before they even visit it.

What Do Meta Keywords Do?

Meta keywords work very similarly to meta descriptions, but instead of telling Internet users what a site is about, it tells the search engine. Here is an example:
Lisa's site is about Georgia peaches. In her meta keywords, she has written, "Georgia peaches, peaches from Georgia, peach orchards" By writing these keywords, Lisa is telling search engines that her site is about Georgia peaches, peaches from Georgia, and peach orchards. Annette searches in a search engine for the term "peaches from Georgia." Since Lisa's site has this phrase in its meta keywords, the search engine may show Lisa's website to Annette in the search listings.

Why You Need Meta Data

Meta information is very important to a site's well being when it comes to SEO. The part of SEO that deals with meta data is known as meta tag optimization. Many people say that you don't need meta keywords because "Google doesn't use meta data in their algorithm and since Google is the most popular search engine, there's no need to use them." That is a myth. While there is no argument that Google is the most popular search engine in the world and they also reportedly do not use meta data as a way to weigh sites, it's a bad idea to ignore meta tag optimization.


Here's why:

  • Other search engines use meta keywords in their algorithms and although they won't make up the larger portion of a site's traffic, it is traffic the site may not be getting if it didn't have meta keywords.
  • Google doesn't care about meta keywords at all, so no sites will be penalized by Google for having meta keywords.
  • Meta tags are easy to add. It's as simple as adding a tiny bit of html right after your <head> tag. Many content management systems even do all the work for you. Those using something like Wordpress are blessed with the number of plug-ins available that help out with meta data.
  • Google uses meta descriptions to give searchers more information about your site. Without a meta description, Google will hand-pick something from the site it feels is relevant to what the searcher is looking for. While this can be helpful, having a clean and well-written meta description can really entice searchers that YOUR site is the one they are looking for. While it has no impact on a site's ranking, it can help click-through rates.

How to Add Meta Data

Each site has a main page or an index page. In the file for this page, a web developer or site admin, should  is to look for the open head tag: <head>. Right after this tag, the site admin should enter their meta data. The following example shows what meta data should look like:
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