What are Meta Tags?


The webpage contains meta tags to convey information to web browsers and search engines. While these tags might not be familiar to those who are not accustomed to them since they don’t display information to users, they are crucial knowledge for SEO professionals as some meta tags are related to crawling and indexing. In this article, we will particularly discuss meta tags that are highly relevant to SEO.

What are meta tags?

A meta tag refers to an HTML tag used to convey information about a webpage to web browsers and search engines. Specifically, it is used to provide information such as the description of the webpage and its character encoding. It can also give instructions to search engines regarding crawling and indexing. Since it is intended for search engines and web browsers, they do not appear on the webpage itself.

(Figure 1: Examples of meta tags written in HTML)

Meta tags supported by Google

There are multiple meta tags supported by Google, but one that is highly relevant to SEO is the “robots” meta tag, which conveys instructions to search engines. Additionally, the “description” meta tag, which describes the webpage, is crucial as it often appears as the description in search results.

Source: meta tags and attributes that Google supports

The “robots” meta tag communicates instructions to search engines

The “robots” meta tag, which communicates instructions to search engines, offers multiple directives that can be specified. While search engines may have different ways of processing these directives, this article focuses on Google’s processing methods. Commonly used robots meta tags are highlighted in bold in the table.

Source: Robots meta tag specifications, Google Developers

Meta tags relevant to SEO

This section will introduce 3 meta tags that are highly relevant to SEO.

① meta description tags

Like the title tag, the content of the meta description tag is highly likely to appear in search results. It may be adopted as the description of the webpage in search results. When it appears in search results, strive to write compelling phrases that encourage clicks.

② noindex tag

The “noindex” directive in the robots meta tag is used to prevent a webpage from being displayed in search results. It is typically applied to web pages that you don’t want to appear in search results but still want to be accessible to users through other referral paths such as internal links. However, it’s essential to use it correctly, as misconfiguration could reduce organic search traffic. More details are explained in the article below.

③ nofollow tag

The “nofollow” directive is used when you don’t want Google to follow any links on a webpage. If you want to prevent Google from following individual links within a webpage, you would use the “rel” attribute in the tag instead of a meta tag. It’s worth noting that the “nofollow” directive is advisory in nature, and Google treats it as a hint rather than a strict directive.

The method of installing meta tags

— Placement location

Meta tags are installed within the section of HTML, as shown below.

— How to write the robots meta tag

For the robots meta tag, you describe the crawler to which you want to apply the directives in the value of the “name” attribute and describe the directives themselves in the value of the “content” attribute. Case sensitivity is not distinguished in both the “name” and “content” attributes.

When specifying multiple directives, you can use two different writing formats, as shown below.


In this article, we’ve discussed meta tags. It’s crucial to use them correctly, especially concerning index-related meta tags like “noindex,” as misconfiguration could unexpectedly decrease traffic.

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