A question we often get from clients is whether meta tags really still matter in SEO. (The people who ask this heard a pernicious and never ending rumor that Google and other search engines ignore meta tags.) My answer to that questions is a resounding and 100% confident, “Yes, meta tags do matter for SEO!”
So here is how I answered the client and showed meta tags in action to prove it:
Meta tags are super important for a variety of reasons, but here are the main two:
1) While they are not the primary thing that makes a page pop, they do have influence as we have done nothing but meta tag refreshes on sites and seen them rise in Google’s rankings.
2) This is the big deal! Title tags and meta descriptions are always partially or completely displayed as your search listing text in Google. So your meta data powers the copy of your search listings and it’s the copy of your organic listings that get people to click! Organic ranking have a click rate just like paid search or banners! (See image below of meta tags in actual search listings.)
Meta Tags in Action
Honestly, I believe the confusion is more around meta “keywords” tag. Certainly, and as I pointed out above in the graphic, the title tag and description tag are very important and actually show up in your search listing! However, the keywords you embed in your meta tag have greatly diminished in importance – so I think that’s where this rumor came from. Also, even though just sticking meta keyword tags on your page may not be a silver bullet I believe they add context and more data to a page and validate the content on the page. So hey, don’t skip it. SEO is the net result of a thousand little things that you do – kind of like aerodynamics, every little thing you do helps!
Again, while meta tags are not only thing that helps in SEO – they are by no means something you should ignore! They are a crucial part of an integrated strategy that includes clean code, feeds, good content, linking, PR and social integration. So the next time someone tells you, “Oh, meta tags don’t matter anymore and you don’t have to expend time and effort worrying about them.” you can say, “Not true!” and show them this blog post!