I was asked by a client how to use META tags to boost up their website rankings. At first I thought the answer was obvious, but when I stopped to think, I started to doubt my knowledge on the subject. So with my good friend Google, one litre of coffee and my determination, I set out to learn a little more about META element tags and their status quo.
The META element started off in the 90’s as a classification method for search engines to index webpages. However, in the early 2000’s, the keywords attribute of the META tag, almost if not completely lost support from all the major search engines due to spamming and unscrupulous misuse.
Today, there is mixed information on whether search engines support the META tag or not. The consensus seems to be that since search engines implement such advanced algorithms for crawling a website, more weight is placed on content within the web page rather than on META tags.
The Web has also seen a growth in standardization since the early 90’s with the development of the W3C and The Resource Description Framework, a family of W3C specifications originally designed as a metadata data model. This by the way, is definitely something to look into if you plan to dig deeper into the methods used for indexing web pages.
So, simply adding meta tags will not magically rank a website at the top of search results. It will however be used for search result pages as links or descriptions of your site at minimum so discarding them is not what I am implying at all. The reality is that content fuels search engines. Content-rich websites with descriptive text that incorporate words (keywords) that are relevant to the site’s topic or theme. Simply having a well structured document with an appropriate hierarchy of information, can do so much more for your rankings than META tags alone.