So, what are meta tags? The meta tags you should focus on include the title tag, the meta description, and the meta keywords. These tags are used in various ways to inform search engines and internet users of the content and focus of your website's pages.

There are a few reasons to make sure you routinely review your website's meta tags:

  1. First, you will want to make sure that the meta tags match the content of the page. If the page's focus has changed, you will need to update the tags as well. 
  2. Second, you'll want to make sure that your meta tags match what your keyword research has revealed. Of course, you'll also want to ensure that the content also focuses on what your keyword research has shown. 
  3. Finally, you will want to make sure that every page on your website has unique tags that are concise and focused on the page's content.

The title tag is what displays on the top of your browser when you are viewing a page on a website. This tag also displays on the search engine results page. The purpose is to tell the user (and the search engine) what the content of your page is. Title tags should be about 50 to 65 characters in length, which includes spaces, to properly fit on a search engine's result page. If your title is longer than 69 characters long, then the search engine will cut off the rest of the information. It also helps you keep your page's title concise and focused on your important keywords. In the example below, you can see the title tag looks like in a search engine result. The keywords that match the search terms are bolded, and the title tag is clickable.

Title Tag Example for SEM Post

The meta description tag does not display when a user is on your webpage. This tag is viewable to search engine spiders and provides a brief description of your page's content. It is viewable to users on the search engine results page to provide them with an idea of what your page will contain if they click through to view it. The description should be about 140 to 155 characters in length, including spaces, to ensure it will be completely viewable on the results page. If the description is longer than 155 characters, it will be clipped off. In the example below, you can see that the words in the description matching the search term are in bold. Also, you can see what it looks like when a description fits or when it is too long.

Meta Description Example for SEM Post

The meta keywords tag is not used for ranking purposes in the larger search engines, but they help you to organize your thoughts and your page's content. The meta keywords tag should contain no more than seven keywords. They keywords should be found in the content of your page. Smaller search engines may use this tag in order to help determine the focus of your page, so remain concise when choosing them. If you find that you have too many keywords, you may want to consider whether your page is not focused enough or should be broken into separate pages.

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of pages to update, prioritize your pages by importance or pageviews and update the meta tags in smaller, more manageable batches. It can take a lot of time to conduct keyword research and to ensure that each page has focused content and concise meta tags, but the end result is worth all the hard work!