If you’ve been into web design for long enough, you may have heard about meta tags. Meta tags are snippets of code, invisible to your site’s visitors, that help search engines and third party services find and interact with your website. To help you understand what meta tags are, let’s start with an easy example of what meta tags can actually do for you:
Did you notice how some brands on Pinterest have a small gray check mark icon showing underneath their business description? This check mark is called a “verification badge” and is there to confirm that the brand in question is the authorized owner of the website associated with this Pinterest account.
Why is this important? Verifying your account on Pinterest, or on any other social media channel, is a great way to add credibility to your business and to let customers know they can trust you. Verifying your account also always gives you instant added perks: On Pinterest, for instance, a successful account verification grants you an immediate free access to Pinterest’s Analytics tool, allowing you to measure your pins’ performance.
Types of Meta Tags
The process of verifying your Pinterest account is done through adding a relevant meta tag to your website’s header. If this sounds like gibberish – don’t worry – we’ll break it down for you in a little while. What’s important for you to understand though, is that just like you can add a meta tag to your website to verify your Pinterest account, you can add many more meta tags with each serving a different purpose. Generally, meta tags fall into two categories: site ownership verification, and rich media experiences.
Ownership Verification – Description and Perks
Ownership verification meta tags simply confirm you are the official owner of your website. Once confirmed as the legitimate owner of your website, you’ll have unparalleled access to a wealth of information about your website, depending on the meta tag you added. Here are examples for some common applications of ownership verification meta tags:
- Google site verification – Google site verification is probably one of the better-known, popular meta tags. Verifying your website with Google gives you access to extremely important metrics: your site’s traffic sources, the keywords which drove traffic to your site, how your site ranks for different keywords, and statistics about how Google indexes your site.
- Bing site verification – Bing is another important search engine that you don’t want to overlook. Adding a Bing site verification meta-tag to your website means that Bing will be able to index your website, giving a nice bump to your SEO. You’ll also receive access to important data regarding your site’s performance, how your site ranks and much more.
- Norton Safe Web site verification – By verifying your site with Norton Safe Web, you are giving Norton Safe Web the option to rate your site as a “safe” site. If your site is deemed as safe, a green icon will appear by your site. This serves as a sign that Norton trusts this site, which doesn’t carry any viruses, spyware, or malware.
Rich Media Experiences – Description and Perks
On the other hand, rich media experience meta-tags allow you to control how your site will appear when linked to social media sites or in the Google search results page. Let’s look at two popular examples:
- Google authorship – Adding a Google authorship meta tag influences how your site will appear in the search results page. Adding this tag enhances the way Google displays your content: your name, photo and author byline will prominently appear next to relevant search results. Your photo will be automatically taken from your Google+ profile so make sure it’s the best one you have. Implementing Google authorship lands your content instant credibility and one study shows that authors with Google authorship have increased their click-through rates by 150%. Not too bad for a meta tag.
- Twitter cards - Twitter cards, or as some people call them,”expanded tweets, allow you to attach rich media experiences (text, photos and videos) to tweets that link to your content. In other words, when someone tweets links to your website, a “card” will be added to their tweet and will be visible to all of their followers. There are seven card types that can be attached to tweets, and each offers a different media consumption experience. Do keep in mind that after you have chosen the type of card you would like to implement, you must submit it for validation by Twitter. Only then will you be able to receive a confirmation email from Twitter confirming that the card was validated.
Ready to add advanced meta tags to your website? Go to the Wix Learning Center and watch our instructional video. Best of luck!