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Each HTML file consists of three parts: the definition of the document type, the header (or header) and the body (or body). While the body contains everything that the browser should display, the "header data", that is, the meta-information about the document, is found in the header. They describe the content of the body, summarize it, and refer to other sources or relationships to other documents.

Important SEO items in the HTML header

There are countless possible items in the HTML header with more or less extended types of information. The following are important for search engine optimization:

  • Goal Title: The label title sets the entire page and shows up in Google search results. It must not exceed the maximum length of 70 characters. The interpretation of title tags has changed, through various updates from Google. Testing has shown that a fixed number of characters no longer determines whether a title is truncated. Instead, Google calculates the pixel width of each character and adds it to a total width. When this pixel width exceeds the maximum, the title is truncated and "..." is added. At the same time, it is recommended to integrate the main keyword of the page in the meta title.
  • Goal Description: This description must not be longer than 175 characters, contain the keyword and be of an advertising nature since it will appear in Google search results.
  • Meta Keyword: No longer used by search engines.
  • Canonical Label: Indicates the actual source of the content of a copied page. It can be used very well for handling duplicate content.
  • Meta Robots: Tells the crawler how to deal with the specific page. Possible values are noindex, where indexing is prohibited, and a follow / nofollow element to control whether or not the links on the page should be followed.

Result in SERPs

Some of the information listed, in particular the meta title and meta description, will show up in search engine results. The meta title looks like the first line of a result and it should arouse curiosity so that users are aware of it. The meta description is displayed below the link to the website. If it contains your search term, it will be displayed in bold. In this way, it is essential to place the main keywords in the description. An attractive formulation that encourages a click is useful at this point for the user to take the desired action.

The metatitle also appears elsewhere. If you open a page in the browser, the meta title is displayed in the top status bar, or in more recent versions it is the name in the individual tab depending on the browser and version. In this last variation, it is essential that the first 25-30 characters be meaningful, since the tab label cannot normally display the full title.

Possible head errors

It is essential that the title tag and meta description only exist once for each web page. The meta information, such as the canonical tag and the meta robots, must conform to the specifications of the XML Sitemap, the Robots.txt and the htaccess.

The meta keyword is no longer used much for the evaluation of websites and their ranking, it should not be misused for keyword spam. If the target keyword remains, one to three entries are sufficient. If it consists of a niche website, up to six keywords can be justified.

Relevance for SEO

The information in the head of a website is very important for SEO. Failure to provide a meta description or fill it with duplicate content is one of the most serious mistakes in search engine optimization. Metadata is a form of accommodate additional content for online stores. You will need the canonical tag to avoid duplication of content, for example if a website is represented by multiple URLs or if the content has been cited with permission from other websites. Meta robots are used in the header section, to indicate to Google which subpages should be indexed in a web portal and which ones should not. This is particularly important to make the best use of a website's crawl budget.

Ideally, for certain data types to run on the client or server with the appropriate app, the respective MIME type should be specified in the head of the document.