Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Though your customers will never see them, meta tags are essential to your website. They’re one of the driving factors in your search rankings and can help ensure crawlers understand the content on your website.
Let’s look at what meta tags are and how you should be using them to strengthen your SEO.
What Are Meta Tags and Why Are They Important in E-Commerce?
Meta tags (sometimes called robot meta directives) are pieces of code that provide crawlers with instructions on how to crawl or index web page content.
These meta tags should contain keywords or phrases regarding the page’s content to help crawlers include your web page in relevant search queries.
Your meta information should be displayed in the portion of the web page you want indexed. This data takes several forms:
The title tag is the line of code that specifies the title of the web page. It looks like this in code:
<title>Example Website Title</title>
These tags are the clickable headline on the search engine results page, which is why they’re so important. The title tag also appears in the tab on the user’s browsing window, which offers a good user experience for those who have multiple tabs open at once. In addition, your title tag will be the title that displays on social media when that web page is shared.
You want to create a title tag that offers usability, is optimized for search engines, and provides clear, compelling content that makes people want to click.
The length of the title tag should be approximately 50-60 characters. If your title is under 60 characters, about 90% of your titles will display correctly. However, keep in mind there is no magic number since some characters are slimmer than others, and Google’s display for titles caps out at around 600 pixels.
The meta description is the bit of text that appears under the title tag on the search engine results pages. This text should offer a description of what the user can expect if they click through to the website.
Your meta description doesn’t impact your search ranking. Rather, it’s solely to provide users with information to help them choose whether or not to navigate to your website. Think of it as your web page’s little piece of ad copy – you’re trying to convince them to click through to your website and should be as descriptive as possible about the content they’ll find.
That said, being descriptive is hard since meta descriptions can only be 160 characters or fewer. This means you need to get specific about what you want your user to know prior to clicking. Descriptions longer than 160 characters will only display the first 160 characters, so make sure you frontload the most important content to be safe.
How to Use Meta Tags
At the very least, you’ll want to create a title tag and meta description for every web page. Each title tag and meta description tag will need to be unique to each web page for maximum SEO benefits.
On the home page, make sure the SFNT page has a proper SEO title and description that is unique from the rest of the website, even if the remainder of your website is blank.
On your Miva website, you can implement the necessary template changes to allow for title and meta tag management. Miva offers powerful features and methods that take much of the guesswork out of applying this data to your content. Once these changes have been implemented, we recommend writing compelling and relevant descriptions and title tags to entice potential shoppers to click on listings within the search results.
An alternate recommendation is to use our programming along with the Miva method so that if there is no data is in the SEO fields, you can then add in values based on the page, category, or product. Adding a value to the SEO tab fields overrides this.
Mistakes to Avoid with Meta Tags
When implementing meta tags in your website content, there are a few easy mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Don’t Add Unnecessary Meta Tags
Focus your efforts only on meta tags that add SEO value. For example, the Keywords meta tag is no longer supported and has absolutely no SEO value (you should delete this tag if you’re still running it on your website). More tags aren’t necessarily better, since having unnecessary meta tags couldan slow your site speed and clutter your code.
Other unnecessary tags include the following:
- Author or web author tags
- Rating tags
- Expiration tags
- Distribution tags
- Resource type tags
- Cache control tags
Don’t Use Duplicate Meta Descriptions
It’s tempting to reuse meta descriptions when web pages feature similar content. No one wants to reinvent the wheel, but in the world of SEO, uniqueness matters.
Make sure you’re using 100% original content for the best results. Not only does duplicate content make you look bad, it can also be confusing to the user.
Don’t Agonize Over Character Count
It’s a good idea to follow general character guidelines when writing your meta descriptions and title tags. This gives you the best chance of your content displaying in its entirety.
But as we mentioned earlier, the display is based on pixels, not characters. If you’re a little over on your character count, it’s not the end of the world. Test it to see how it displays. In some cases, your content might not be truncated, even with a few extra characters.
Get Help with Meta Tags
Adding meta tags to your E-commerce website can help improve the user experience and fuel your search rankings. If you’re not already using metadata in your strategy, you’ll have your work cut out for you in the beginning to get every web page up to par. But after that, it’s much easier to stay in the habit of creating title tags and descriptions.
If you need help in putting these pieces into practice, contact us today and let us help you maximize your website content.