Is Meta Data still Relevant for SEO in 2021?
If you have a website ‘meta data’ is definitely a term that you have come across while adding content in the backend.
Meta data is used by search engines, like Google or Safari, to determine what your website is about. The more accurate this information, the better the search engine will be able to rank or index your website in the search results. Think about meta data as the means by which search engines are able to communicate with your website.
But the question remains: is meta data still relevant?
And, the short answer, is yes.
While meta data might not be as prevalent as it was in the past, it does still play a very important role in search engine optimisation to this day.
Let’s take a closer look at how meta data can be used to improve your website.
The meta title, or title tag, is displayed above the description of your web page when it pops up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). Not only do search engines use this information as a part of the indexing procedure, but it is also useful to draw the attention of searchers and persuade them to click.
Every web page on your website should have a unique meta title as this will increase the relevance of the meta data listed on your website.
The meta title that you choose should always include popular researched keywords that appear in the content on the specific webpage for which the meta title has been created but should also be descriptive and relate to the content.
However, this needs to be done within a character limit. In the past, meta titles could be 55-70 characters in length (including spaces) but now research by Google has proven that meta titles around 55 characters prove to be more effective.
If your meta title is too long, the search engine will not display the full title in the search listings.
The meta description, or description tag, appears underneath the meta title on the search listings page and provides a short summary of the content that can be found on the web page when clicked on.
Similar to the meta title, the meta description acts as a lure to encourage searchers to click on your web page to find the results that they are searching for thereby improving the click-through rate of your website.
If you do not use a meta description, the search engine will generate one that is deemed most appropriate and, while content will still display beneath the meta title on the search listings page, this extracted content may not be what you deem appropriate.
As such it is important to develop unique meta descriptions that include relevant keywords and highlight the main points that you would like to bring to the attention of the searchers without compromising the character limit.
Meta descriptions are most effective when constructed around 150-160 characters including spaces. However, it should also be kept in mind that duplicate meta descriptions can negatively impact your listing so be sure to create unique content for each web page.
Image “Alt” Text
Search engines are unable to read images but they can read the text which is where alt text comes into play. Alt tags help to further optimise your website and boost engagement on your website.
Alt-text is used to provide a short description of the image which the search engine uses to pull relevant information for image search listings. However, alt text is not only important for search engines – but is also important for people with visual impairments.
Visually impaired search engine users often make use of voice recognition software to navigate websites. This software reads image alt text to describe images to visually impaired users.
While alt text might not be as important for SEO ranking, it is definitely worth using to increase engagement and accessibility for all searchers and also helps to increase the overall keyword density on your website.
While meta data is important for the ranking and indexing of your website, the new shift to search engine optimisation lies in relevant content which is supported by the meta data attributes.
In the past website content needed to be written for search engines by using meta data, keywords and other attributes to improve your listing on the search results page. While this still rings as somewhat true today, website content is written for humans instead of search engines.
This means that ‘keyword stuffing’ in websites is not as useful as what it was in the past and, while keywords should definitely still be included in the site copy, it is important to use these terms or phrases in meta data, links and the general copy of the website.
Another forerunner in search engine optimisation to increase traffic and search index ranking is the use of authoritative links.
With a large amount of information available on the Internet, search engines use authoritative links as a means to determine whether or not website content is trustworthy and useful for searchers.
The more relevant the hyperlinks you include on your web page are, the more “findable” your website will become on the search listings and your website will automatically be classified as more “authoritative”, especially if you include links to websites that are already classified as authoritative.
A great place to make use of these authoritative links in your website content is through the writing of blog articles.
In conclusion, the answer is a definitive ‘yes'. Meta data is most definitely still relevant for search engine optimisation and will continue to be a player in the SEO game for the foreseeable future.
However, it is the combined efforts of good content development, good website practices and the use of meta data on your website that will help to improve the overall ranking of your website.
Need help with optimising your website? Contact the digital marketing team at Online Innovations for assistance.