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Which meta-elements (meta-tags) are relevant for SEO and which are not?

We talk about SEO-relevant meta-elements if a search-engine crawler reads, processes and takes them into consideration for calculating the search result rankings, as well as for indexing purposes.

Google understands and interprets the following meta-element attributes

Description

According to Google, the meta-element attribute “description” is not part of the ranking calculations for the search results. Though, it does play a significant part for the CTR (Click-Through-Rate) of users and should therefore not be forgotten. A good structure for a meta-description optimisation is the AIDA-Principle.

<meta name="description" content="Here is your Meta-Description.">

Title

The title-element is relevant for SEO, as it helps the search engine figure out what the document is about – it is an important part of Google’s over 200 ranking factors.

While the title is not a meta-element, it plays an important role: The title-tag is the part of the snippet which can be clicked on to reach the website. Make sure that every piece of content has its unique and fitting title, which tells users as well as searchengines what they can expect on the page.

<title>Here is the title of your document</title> 

Robots

The value of the meta-tags with the robots-attribute tells a (searchengine) crawler, whether

  • they may index the page (Index) or not (NoIndex)
  • they may follow the links on the page (DoFollow) or not (NoFollow)
  • the content of the page may not be used as Featured Snippet (NoSnippet)
  • the version Google has cached should not be shown (NoArchive)

If a value is not explicitly stated, it is presumed to be “allowed”. A page without robots-meta-information will therefore get treated as if the following was stated:

<meta name="robots" content="index, follow"> 

For more information on the robots-meta-tag, please check out Google’s documentation.

Google does not use the Meta-Element Keywords

Google ignores the meta-element attribute “keywords” completely and you need not worry about using it, at all.

Quote from Matt Cutts on the meta-element attribute “keywords”

Google doesn’t use the keywords meta tag in web search– Matt Cutts

– Matt Cutts

Video explanation by Matt Cutts / Google on the subject (Engl.)

https://www.youtube.com/embed/jK7IPbnmvVU

You will find a neat table of meta-element attributes, including their content (content=”value”), as part of Google’s Search Console Help.

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