Today, let’s discuss meta tags, one of the most important factor of SEO which everyone learn at starting days of SEO course. You must be remembering that you are taught about page title, meta description and keywords. Meta tags are primary and one of the most important pillars of search engine optimization. In simple terms meta tags provide information to search engines about your website or web page. There are number of meta tags are available and each search engine process tags in very different ways and not all search engines understands all these tags. So it is very important to know for which client (search engine) you are using meta tag.

Meta tags
These are basically HTML tags like other HTML tags but work of these tags are to provide information to search engine bots. These tags are used between <head> and </head> of HTML page.
Let’s take the example of meta tags for www.howtoschools.com Check image given below, you will find several meta tags are visible inside html code. But all tags for not for google. Some tags are for facebook and few are for twitter as well.

Meta Tags
So, now question is, if so many meta tags are available then which are the most important meta tags and which understand by google. Basically 8 tags are very important and each website should have these.

(Read Also: How to write perfect page title and meta description – Google Guide)
1)Page Title: HTML code for this tag is <Title> This Is Page Title</Title> Technically this is not a meta tag but since it is most important tag of website for search engine and its value is often shown as title of search engine results. So Google gives special priority to this tag.

2)Meta Description: HTML code for this tag is <Meta name=”Description” Content=”This is meta description for html page” /> this is very important tag and understand by google. Basically content of this tag is short description of given page. In most of situation content of meta description tags is shown in search result snippet.

3)Robots Meta Tags: HTML code for this tag is <meta name=”robots” content=”Index, Follow” />, it is used to control access (Crawling and Indexing) of web page to search engine bots, with this meta tag you can block access of page to any particular search engine bot or all search engines. It is understand by all major search engines. Default value of this meta tag is “index, Follow” but you can change its value as per your requirement. Let’s take few examples to understand this meta tag.

A)Block access for all search engine: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow” />
B)Block access of only google: <meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex, nofollow” />
You can use following options with this tag
noindex: prevents the page from being indexed
nofollow: prevents the Googlebot from following links from this page
nosnippet: prevents a snippet from being shown in the search results
noodp: prevents the alternative description from the ODP/DMOZ from being used
noarchive: prevents Google from showing the Cached link for a page.
unavailable_after:[date]: lets you specify the exact time and date you want to stop crawling and indexing of this page
noimageindex: lets you specify that you do not want your page to appear as the referring page for an image that appears in Google search results.
none: is equivalent to noindex, nofollow.
4)Google-Site-Verification: HTML code for this tag is <meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”…” />, it is basically used for verification of ownership of website. When you submit your website is google search console then it will ask to insert this meta tag to verify ownership of website. You need to insert this tag at top-level page of your website.
5)NoSiteLinksSearchBox: HTML code for this meta tag is <meta name=”google” content=”nositelinkssearchbox” />. For some websites google shows a specific search box for that website in google search result. With this tag website owner can hide site link search box.

sitelink search box
6)NoTranslate: HTML code for this tag is <meta name=”google” content=”notranslate” />. If google finds that websites content is in different language than users language then to provide better content for users google often offers a link to translate content in to native language. But if anyone doesn’t want this translation then they can use this meta tag.
7)Content Type: HTML code for this tag is <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”…; charset=…” />. This defines the page’s content type and character set. Make sure that you surround the value of the content attribute with quotes – otherwise the charset attribute may be interpreted incorrectly. We recommend using Unicode/UTF-8 where possible.
8)Meta Refresh: HTML code for this tag is <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”…;url=…” />. This tag is used to redirect users from old URLs to New URLs after certain amount of time. It is called 302 redirection. But this meta tag is not supported by all web browsers and it is not recommended by google itself. So if you want to use redirection then use server-side redirection techniques.
Conclusion:
There are several other mega tags are available which are understand by google but in this post I just taken those which are most useful for google. And most important thing is that you are free to use any number of meta tags, if a search engine don’t know about that tag then it will simply ignore it. Meta tags are foundation of search engine optimization so webmasters needs to put extra focus on these tags.
Please feel free to ask me any questions about this topic.