What are tags in SEO? Tags are snippets of codes added to a page’s HTML that make it possible for both search engines and users to understand what a web page is about. Tags make it possible to differentiate between different kinds of data. For example, header tags differentiate headings and subheadings from the rest of the content.
Do tags affect SEO? Yes they do! How they do is what we are going to explore in this post. Also, you will learn why you need tags for SEO. If you stay on this page a little while, we’ll talk about the different types of tags and why each of them is so important for your SEO and ranking. Let’s go!
1. Title Tag
Title tag is the most important of all tags for SEO. The title tag tells both search engine and search engine users what your web page is about.
For search engines to understand what your page is about, your targeted keyword should be contained in your title tag.
Below is a sample title tag that shows up on search engine result page (SERP).
In the above title tag, you can tell that the target keyword the publishers are trying to rank for is “eCommerce SEO”.
2. Meta Description Tag
Your Meta description tag is the snippet that shows in organic search results. It provides a brief summary of the information contained on your web page.
Your meta description tag is like your sales pitch. It has the potential to increase your click through rate if it is good. Having a Meta description tag that contains your focus keyword will help you rank better on Google. It tells search engine users that your page contains the information relevant to their query.
Using more than one keyword in your Meta description will confuse search engines and could earn you a lower ranking. At best, it should contain the same distinct keyword as is contained in your title tag.
Below is a sample of what a Meta description tag looks like on a SERP.
3. Header tags
Header tags differentiate between heading and subheading sublevels in the body of your content. Just like this subheading “Header Tags” that you are reading.
Header tags form a top-down hierarchy in the order h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6. H1 is the most important header tag while h6 is the least important.
If you begin your page with an h1 header tag and jump to h3, leaving out the h2 tag, the hierarchy will be broken. Doing that is bad for your SEO.
Generally, header tags help search engines and page visitors understand the structure of your content. Header tags plays two important role for SEO – namely:
Structure Content for Readability
Header tags differentiate between contents in top priority headings and the less priority subheadings. Not that any content is unimportant. Search engines tend to give higher priority to contents in higher header tags such as h1, h2, h3 and in that order.
Also, header tags divide up your contents and make them easier to consume.
Using your target keyword within your higher priority header tags is good for SEO as it helps you rank better on Google. It helps Google to see that your page is relevant to a particular user’s query.
Below is what the HTML tag looks like:
4. Image alt tags
Image optimization using alt tags is very beneficial for your SEO. Search engines cannot read images but they can read texts. Alt tags are your chance to tell search engines what your images are about. That is a great way to make your page rank better especially when people use the “Images” tab in Google to search.
Below is a sample image alt tag.
Here’s an example HTML alt tag:
5. Nofollow link tags
nofollow link tags tell search engines not to ascribe your outbound link (backlink) to an external website of any repute. Under normal circumstances, linking to another website lends credence to the domain authority of that website. A nofollow link tags help to achieve the opposite of that credence. Although the link will still work, it won’t be of any SEO value to the receiving website.
A dofollow link is the opposite of a nofollow link. A nofollow link tag comes in handy when you are linking to a low domain authority website that might hurt your SEO.
Check this beginner’s guide on how to add nofollow links in WordPress.
Here’s an example HTML code of a nofollow link:
6. Links and anchor text tags
Anchor text helps Google to understand what your link (inbound or outbound) is all about. If you’re linking to an external website, a proper anchor text will help their off-page SEO more than just a link would do.
On the other hand, if you’re linking to your own website, it impacts your domain authority positively as it helps Google understand your content even better.
This is what a typical link tag and anchor text looks like below:
<a href=”http://example-website.com”>. This is a link to my website.</a>.
7. Canonical tags
A canonical tag helps search engines to understand what specific URL holds the master copy of a page. Canonical tags come in handy for organizing your contents and dealing with duplicate web pages.
It is worthy to note that every website has duplicate web pages. You may wonder how?
For example, search crawlers might be able to reach your homepage in all of the following ways:
Here’s what Moz has to say about such duplicates:
To a human, all of these URLs represent a single page. To a search crawler, though, every single one of these URLs is a unique “page.” Even in this limited example, we can see there are five copies of the homepage in play. In reality, though, this is just a small sample of the variations you might encounter.
Just to reiterate Moz’s stance, your website could have hundreds, even thousands of such duplicate pages. Such duplicate confuse search engines and is bad for your SEO. The long and short of it is that it will hurt your ranking.
To solve this problem, canonical tags are used to specify to Google which URL should be regarded and the others disregarded.
Below is what canonical tags look like:
Finally . . .
To wrap things up, if you use WordPress, most of these tags are automatically added in your page’s HTML and the rest can be handled with Yoast plugin.
However, if you use a content management system where you have to deal with all the codes under the hood, you will want to ensure that you are handling the html right. If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, perhaps you should hire someone to take care of things for you.