What Are HTML Tags for SEO?

There are many steps to SEO optimisation, and sometimes, it’s possible that you forget to do some essential steps. However, it is not the end of the world if something gets overlooked during the first round of optimisation. Remember, optimisation takes practice and time to perfect. If you’re looking to learn more about the basics, be sure to check out our blog SEO – How to Go from Zero to Hero.

In this blog, we’re going to dive into everything you should know about HTML tags for SEO. What are tags in SEO? is a common question we’ll answer as well as going over how to write good meta tags and some best practices for HTML tags. First, let’s discuss what HTML tags are and their purpose when it comes to SEO.

Breaking Down HTML Tags for SEO

When you think of tags, you probably imagine an itchy piece of cloth in your shirt or pants. While we find those types of tags annoying, those aren’t the tags we are talking about. HTML tags are pieces of information (often called code) that determine your website content. When used correctly, HTML tags can also help search engines better understand your website. 

When search engines analyse your website (also known as crawling), they are reading the HTML code of the tags. Once that information is read, they index your site for searches based on the tags they are able to read. Crawling and indexing your site allows search engines to rank you in relevant online searches. 

If you don’t put a focus on your website’s HTML tags, it’s likely that search engines won’t rank you very well on the search engines results page (SERP). When search engines can’t understand your HTML tags, your website traffic and SEO will decrease causing more consumers to visit your competitor’s site instead. 

Which HTML Tags Are Important?

While this does seem confusing, HTML tags have come a long way since they were first created. Just as the digital world has transformed and advanced, so have HTML tags. HTML tags are much easier to understand and implement on your site compared to the past. However, there are some tags that are extremely important for your website and for SEO optimisation. Let’s talk about some of the top tags that you need to be paying attention to:

1. Title Tags

This is the easiest tag to understand. You know how clickable results appear when you complete a search? Those clickable results are known as title tags. While you don’t always have direct control of what appears on the SERP page (Google often creates the headline), you can still have an influence on what appears. The first place Google will check for a headline is the title tag section. Ultimately, it’s up to you to optimise what’s placed in the title tag section. If you ignore this, Google will create a headline it thinks is best. If you want to represent your page in a specific way, be sure to optimise the title tag.

  • Best Practice 1 — Keep your page titles on the shorter side. Google will not show any title tags longer than 60 characters. If you need to have a title longer than 60 characters, make sure the crucial information is within that first 60 characters. 
  • Best Practice 2 — Use keywords, but don’t keyword stuff. There’s a fine line that you have to meet when it comes to using the appropriate amount of keywords. If you have a recognisable brand, try to add that to the title tag, too! 

2. Meta Tags

On the SERP, the description underneath the headline/title is often pulled from the meta tag. Similar to title tags, Google won’t always pull the meta tag to appear as the description. This information may be different based on the search a user performs and Google may pull content from a specific page instead. It might not seem like it, but Google has your back and will show the content that will help increase your click-through rate.

  • Best Practice 1 — Write good copy. While the description doesn’t necessarily help for ranking in search results, it does help with consumer search intent. The better the copy, the more likely a consumer will choose you. Need help writing content? Head over to our blog How to Make Compelling Content for some helpful tips. 
  • Best Practice 2 — If you have to skip an optimisation step, we recommend this one. As mentioned earlier, Google will populate a description based on content from the page. If you can’t come up with a great meta tag, let Google do the work for you. 
  • Best Practice 3 — If you do decide to write a meta tag, be sure to watch the length as well. Google recognizes the first 150-160 characters in a meta description tag. Put the most important information first, just in case Google cuts the description at a certain point.

3. Image Alt Text

Images are crucial to helping you tell a story for website visitors. The image alt text you choose tells a story to help with image indexing. Both are reasons to include image alt text. When you break it down, alt text provides context in case an image doesn’t appear or a user cannot see the image. In terms of SEO, alt text provides that extra bit of information that search engines need to rank your image. 

  • Best Practice 1 — While you want to get to the point, you need to be descriptive enough that way you can tell the image apart from other images. Don’t just say “Woman holding bag.” Instead, say “Young woman carrying a green and white shopping bag with restaurant logo.” 
  • Best Practice 2 — Don’t keyword stuff. With the number of optimisation tips floating around, you should know by now that keyword stuffing can hurt your site more than help you. Image alt text doesn’t provide an exception, either. 

4. Heading Tags

Have you ever read a blog that was just a cluster of words with no sections? Your eyes probably got tired. To help, you can use heading tags on your pages to split up the content. Not only will this make it easier for consumers to read, but it can help search engines as well. Most times, consumers will skip to a section of an article based on the heading, making these tags extremely valuable. In the same way, search engines also use heading tags to skim the page to understand the content. 

  • Best Practice 1 — Don’t use more than one H1 tag. Your H1 is the most important part of the page as search engines see this as the title of the page. If you have more than one H1, search engines are likely to get confused.
  • Best Practice 2 — Stay consistent with headings. Whether it’s a blog or a webpage, make sure that your headings make sense in the order you place them. If you only had the headings, they should read as if they were in a list. 
  • Best Practice 3 — Use headings that sound like a query. Headings allow you to rank in searches. When you create query-like headings, it gives you more opportunity to rank for what people are searching for. 

5. Canonical Tags

By now, we hope that you know that duplicate content and pages on the web is a bad thing! All content should be original (as much as possible). To help, you can use canonical tags to stop search engines from crawling duplicate pages. For example, if you add tracking to a URL for an email campaign, that is technically a duplicate page. When you add a canonical tag, you’re telling Google to only crawl the original page.

  • Best Practice 1 — Use canonical tags on dynamic pages. If you have consumers fill out a form, a new URL will be created after every form submission. Using canonical tags will allow you to avoid any SEO complications by telling search engines to ignore that page.
  • Best Practice 2 — If you have multiple pages with similar content, consider using canonical tags. For example, services pages often include similar content if there are different price tiers. While the content may seem different to you, search engines have a hard time differentiating service pages that offer similar products. 

6. Schema Markup

This one is a little different from the rest. When it comes to search engine listings, schema markup helps enhance listings with additional features. Some options include images, star ratings and much more. While not everyone takes advantage of schema markup for listings, you might find the perfect tag that enhances your business listing in search. However, it’s uncertain if schema markup actually improves your ranking in search, but it does make the listing more visually appealing for searchers.

  • Best Practice 1 — For this, we only have one best practice since it varies drastically from business to business. To find the best tags, visit schema.org. Browse through the options to determine if any of them can be applied to your page types. Who knows, you may find something perfect to improve your listing! 

If you’re still not totally sold on schema, head over to our blog, Enhance Your SEO with Schema On-Page Optimisation. We break down schema, what you can do to get started and some tips to get you on the right path. 

Leave the HTML Tag Optimisation to the Pros

We know you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to tend to your business needs and employees, but now you have to worry about optimising yet another aspect of your website? If you feel like you take on the challenge, be sure to focus on the tags we mentioned in this blog, including title tags, meta tags, image alt text, heading tags, canonical tags and schema markup. 
When you focus on these items, you will notice a drastic difference in how your listings appear and the traffic to your website. Want to learn more about SEO in general? Head over to our blog 14 Must-Have SEO On-Page Optimisation Techniques for 2021.

If you do not have the time to dedicate to adding or optimising HTML tags, our team at Zeidan Digital Marketing has you covered. Our team of SEO experts will work with you to improve your search engine ranking. Not only does our team know the ins and outs of SEO, but we can help with your email marketing automation, Facebook and LinkedIn lead generation, and so much more.  Visit our services page to learn even more about what our team can do for your business. If you’re ready to work with our team, contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you!