The truth about meta tags and Google

Have you heard that Google ignores meta tags? It’s not true.

First, what exactly are meta tags?

Meta tags (a.k.a. meta elements) are bits of HTML code which can be added to almost any web page to provide information about the page. You can’t see the meta tags when you look at a web page, unless you view the HTML source. Meta tags are designed to be interpreted by  search engines and other programs behind the scenes, to display or categorized web pages better or more accurately.  Here’s what meta tags looks like “in the wild”:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1800;url=?refresh=1">
<meta name="Description" content="This is a description of the page.">
<meta name="Keywords" content="keyword, keyword, keyword, keyword">

There are many types of meta tags

Even though there are many types of meta tags, people tend to focus on the meta keyword tag.  It sounds exciting doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled! The fact is that Google ignores meta keyword tags. It’s true. Get it straight from the horse’s mouth.

There are many other important types of meta tags too, but today we’re only going to look at the meta description tag.  Stay with me. I know you’re excited.

Google often displays your meta description tags in search results

Aha! Now that sounds important. But why is this important to real estate agents?

Imagine that you are a prospective home buyer and you’re searching the internet for property listings in your area. Oh, and you’re moving to Richmond, Virginia.  Lucky you.

You type this into Google: “homes for sale richmond va” and voila, here come the search results.

Each search result link has a title (the top line). Below the title is the description of the link. This important bit of text is often pulled from the meta-description tag!

You’re going to click the search result that has the most compelling title and (meta) description, right?

So how do your meta tags measure up?

To see your meta tags in action, go to google.com (link opens in new window).

In the Google search box, type the text below but replace richmondhomes.com with your real website address.

site:richmondhomes.com

Make sure you replaced richmondhomes.com with your website address! Now click the search button. You should see a list of your website’s pages displayed.

Note the descriptions in the search results. Are they compelling? Would you click them if you were a buyer or seller?

(If you don’t see any results listed, it means Google has not indexed your website yet. We’ll tackle that in an different article.)

How to write effective meta description tags

So now you know that meta description tags can be one of the things that can compel a prospective buyer or seller to click your link in Google.

  • Keep your meta description short enough (160 characters or less) so that Google can show the whole thing in search results.
  • Use a call to action, for example: “Visit our website to see all homes and condos for sale in Richmond, Virginia”
  • Make sure the meta description describes the contents of the page. Be specific.
  • Think about your meta descriptions from your prospective client’s point of view.

Next steps

Do whatever it takes to update your meta description tags. Not sure how to get access to them?  The answer will vary, depending on your hosting provider.

Don’t be shy! Contact your webmaster, log in, fire up your web editing tools, or call tech support right now and ask “Where do I go to I edit my meta description tags?”.

Remember you should have a meta-description for each page of your website. So get busy!

Feedback

This is my first blog post. How did I do?

2 thoughts on “The truth about meta tags and Google

  1. Great first post!
    Thank you for this helpful information!
    Looking forward to reading future posts!

  2. I think you did an awesome job! I checked mine, seems all my pages are indexed, am happy with some, need to work on others. This is a neat trick which I never knew about. Now I will be obsessive about this, LOL.
    I am waiting for the next post!

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