Debates surround the importance of SEO tags. What is now one of the most controversial aspects concerning on-page SEO, were once proven to impact rankings significantly.

There are several different tags for use in SEO. Each tag has a different role and impact on UX and search results. To discover which ones have become more crucial now than they once were, and which ones are becoming obsolete, we need to understand the roles and impacts of each tag used for SEO.

The impact and use of tags gradually changed as search engines got smarter, turning the search ranking game up a bit. These changes brought about new tags and news ways of data organization that can help in the use of both new and old tags.

Let’s look at the different tags, investigating their performance for SEO.

Title Tags
The first tag to look at is in the headline. The headline title tag is what users see on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The title tag typically describes what the webpage is about. Along with SERPs, the title tag appears in browsers and on social networks. Is having a title tag still important and relevant to how your site ranks?

The relationship between rankings and optimized titles has weakened over the years. Google crawlers can no longer be tricked by stuffing keywords into the title. Nowadays, search engines prefer to look at a website as a whole, rather than just the title. The title may be the first thing that a searcher sees, but Google no longer needs the tag for your title to be an exact match to keywords to know what content is on the site. Much like books, the title is what reels the searcher in but it’s the content that is evaluated by search engine crawlers.

To follow the best practices for SEO, you should ensure that each page has a title that both accurately describes the content and is unique. Keep visitors in mind while writing your title tags. Use your brand name in titles, putting important keywords first. Limit each title to 50-60 characters to avoid getting truncated in SERPs.

Meta Description Tags
Much like the title tag, the meta description tag is placed in the of a web page and, along with the URL and a title, is displayed on the SERPs. For almost a decade now, the meta description hasn’t been an official factor for ranking a web page. However, with it being a major part of a SERP snippet, the description is almost as important as the title tag, inviting searchers to your website. If the content on your page is properly reflected in your meta description, you will see a positive impact on the number of clicks you receive.

The Meta Description tags give you the room to extend the message that your title may leave out. Remember that in SERPs, Google will only typically show 160 characters. If you go over this length, depending on the query, the snippet Google chooses for your page may not be the information you’ve written and may miss some of the descriptors you want the searchers to see.

To use meta description in the best way for SEO, ensure that it uniquely reflects the page value. Remember that snippets on Google SERPs max out between 150 and 160 characters (including spaces). You’re writing for the searcher, so while you want to include the most significant keywords, be sure not to overuse them.

Heading Tags (H1-H6)
These HTML tags are used to identify headings and subheadings from other forms of text, such as paragraph text in your content. Numbered in order of “importance,” H1 is used for the main heading, such as the title of a page. Unlike meta title tags, H1 tags are visible to users. H1 tags show what the content on the page is about and is the most prominent of all of the tags. Tags H2-H6 are optional and are a great way to organize your content and make navigation easier for your visitors.

It is important to remember that the architecture of your content is added up by utilizing the heading tags properly. Search engines may not find H2-H6 tags as important as H1 tags. All headings help visitors navigate through your page, and the small details can give your site a more user and SEO-friendly experience, leading to increases in rankings.

For most pages, there isn’t any need to go past H3 tags. Be sure to keep your tags readable for all users.

Italic/Bold Tags
Italics and Bold Tags are used to highlight the most important parts of your content, adding emphasis on certain words. Bots and search crawlers appreciate these little tweaks, as they help improve the page readability.

Use these tags only where it appears to make sense. After scanning a piece of content as a whole, ensure there isn’t an overload of accents.

Meta Keyword Tags
Meta keywords are only visible in the code. These tags tell search engines which topic(s) the page relates. Meta Keyword tags are now completely ignored by Google. Meta Keyword tags were used as a place to spam/stuff keywords. It’s not worth wasting your time as these are basically obsolete. For SEO purposes, either only put keywords that have proper relevance to the content in this tag area, or, like Google, ignore the field altogether.

Image Alt Attributes
Image alt attributes are displayed when an image can’t be loaded. Since search engines cannot “see” images, these attributes give context through words to each image. Anything that helps search engines understand how an image is relevant to the rest of the content on the page increases your chance of appearing in Google Image search results.

In order to optimize the photos chosen for your website, select images with the most prominence that are most likely to be searched in Google. Remember to add alt text to pages where the images take up most of the content. Make sure that your keywords naturally fit into the content’s entire canvas, using keywords in clear and descriptive text.

Nofollow Attributes
Links you place on your site typically direct your visitors to resources that relate to the content on your page. Regarding SEO, this matters a lot as it shows that your content is backed up by sources that are highly reliable. Pay close attention to where and how you place your links. Google may think the link is the content and use it to grab a better understanding of your content. Adding a Nofollow attribute to a link tells search engines not to include any information from that linked page in search queries.

Nofollow attributes should be added to links to sites that may be considered “untrusted” or are sponsored links. User-generated content, comment links, internal “register” and “sign in” links should all have Nofollow attributes.

Hyperlinks, by default, are dofollow. Dofollow links give the page you’ve linked to a vote of confidence and may feature information Google uses for search queries. It would be in your best interest to keep a balance between the two.

Robots Meta Tag
Robots Meta Tags are contrived of code like content=“noindex”. This code tells search engines not to index the corresponding page. Adding a nofollow attribute will instruct Google not to follow any of the links placed on that page as well. Robots Meta Tags are perfect for placeholder pages that may not be finished. Consider if there are pages that you would not want to include in your search when the overall quality of your site is being evaluated. Like Nofollow tags, the Noindex tags give you control over how search engines read your site.

Rel = “canonical” Link Tag
When a page is available under several different URLs, this tag is one way of informing search engines which version of the page you want to be indexed and found by searchers. Without choosing which URL you prefer, a random one may be chosen for you. Canonicalizing a page makes tracking statistics for the content easier. With one specified URL being crawled frequently, the preferred URL will have all the link signals from all versions of the page passed to it.

Without affecting the content, canonicalizing to improve your SEO will include duplicate pages under multiple URLs and pages with similar content regarding the same subject matter.

Schema Markup
One of the more underrated tweaks of SEO, schema markup lets you logically organize your data using vocabulary shared amongst all search engines. Shifting focus away from backlinks and keywords alone, a “semantic web” tends to lean toward the concepts behind keywords and the relationships between them. If your markup is properly structured, search engines will understand what the keywords relate to, rather than just reading the content.

As SERPs have evolved over time, searchers may not even need to get an answer to their query by clicking through results. A nice picture, stock status, a 5-star rating, operating hours, or other information that may useful in the snippet can attract more clicks than a result with plain-text. Schema tags can help search engines determine how they will rank your website.

To add the most prominent schema tags for your SEO, create a map using your most important pages and decipher the relevant concepts for each. Ensure that you carefully implement the markup and thoroughly test it so it’s not added improperly or misleading.

Viewport Meta Tag
This tag let you configure how a page would be viewed and scaled on any device. The tag commonly looks like this:

Typically, “width=device-width” will allow the page to match the screen’s width to that of the device used, and “initial-scale=1” establishes a 1-to-1 relationship between the pixels of the device used and pixels needed for the page to work.

While it may not have anything to do with rankings directly, the viewport meta tag is very important to the experience of the user as there is a wide variety of devices that can be used and mobile browsing is increasing in popularity every day.

Small tweaks add up to a large chunk of your on-page strategy. Each element will not only help search engines but allow users to have a top-notch browsing experience.