Meta Tags vs. Meta Description Tags vs. Meta Keyword Tags – What’s the Difference?!

I have many clients come to me once their website has been created and ask, “Just what are Meta tags and how will they help my site?” – Meta tags are “html keywords” that are inserted into your web pages but they are not visible to your readers. Besides a search engine reading the visible content of your web pages, it will also scan the Meta tags in the html of your website when matching search results to a keyword search of a web browser.

A Meta title appears on the top of all browser pages, resembling a title for that page. The title should describe the content you are writing about. For example in a Real Estate website your community pages should use your hyper local content keywords in the title such as: “The Admiral Townhomes in Edgewater, New Jersey”, while your service pages, such as relocation might have “Relocating to Maryland – Samantha Jones of Coldwell Banker is your Lauden County Expert”.  Any pages talking about yourself or your office should contain your name, office and location. Meta titles many be the most difficult to create out of the ‘Meta family’ because each browser has restrictions on how many characters you can use in your Meta titles. Google allows 63 characters while Yahoo allows 72, Ask allow 69 and Bing allows 65. 

Meta description tags allow you to have a more active role in telling the search engines just what information is included in your web pages. The Meta description tags for your website could simply be the first few sentences of your content, which should outline the information in your site. When formulating the Meta description for a web page it is typically acceptable to stay within 200-250 characters when creating this tag. It may be easier to write the website content for your web page first then extract the main idea(s) of your text to create your Meta description tags. Be advised that Google does NOT use Meta Description tags to rank your site but may use it in the text for a search results snippet.

The Meta keyword tags can be a way to reinforce the keywords that exist on your website for a very select few of browsers. Meta keyword tags allow you to provide additional text for crawler-based search engines to index your site along with your website content. Without even a bit of discretion I will tell you that Meta keywords are a waste of time! Major search engines like Google, AOL, MSN, Yahoo etc. do not base ANY website SEO (search engine optimization) on Meta keywords. If you were to include Meta keywords within your web pages first write the content of your page and reread your website copy and select the most important keywords through the text.

All good web pages should have proper meta tags, especially well-formed titles. Titles are an important aspect for both your viewers and the search engines. While keywords are of little value it does not necessarily hurt to include then for any obscure search engine that will use them. Meta descriptions are used more and are still worth investing time in. If you are having trouble and need assistance RE/Advantage consultants can always lend a hand! Contact us with any questions!

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