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SEO Job Knowledge Interview Question #19: What Is the Importance of Meta Tags?

As hard as it is to assess ANY job candidate’s knowledge, it’s even harder with SEO candidates because there’s so much gray area in the industry. This blog series presents questions you can pose to help you determine a candidate’s level of knowledge.

What is the importance of the title, description, and keyword meta tags?

The candidate should be able to articulate the value (or lack thereof) of each of the primary tags used for on-page optimization and why they are important to the SEO campaign. Since tag length changes frequently, this is not an important aspect of the question, though they should indicate that they understand how tag length impacts the optimization process.

Here’s how I would answer:

In terms of optimization value, the title tag packs the most punch. It’s extremely important both for usability and search engine rankings. With limited visible space, a minor tweak to a title tag can significantly impact search engine rankings. But more importantly, this is often what visitors see in the search results. Therefore, it needs to capture the searcher’s attention and entice them to click on your result over other results on the page.

Next on the importance scale is the meta description tag. However, this has almost no impact on search results, depending on the search engine. Its primary purpose should be to act as a call to action. The content used here often accompanies the title tag in search results and should offer a compelling call for the searcher to click on the link to learn more.

The meta keyword tag is all but useless.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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