Advanced Meta Tags For Real Estate SEO
Your real estate website's success in search engine rankings could depend on the effective use of advanced meta tags - here's everything you need to know.
Here we will answer some questions about specific meta tags, what they're supposed to do, and when to use them for your real estate website.
What Are Meta Tags?
Meta tags are like labels that provide information about a web page to search engines like Google. For example, meta tags could tell search engines what a web page is about and when it was last updated.
Let's say you're an agent who has just started to learn about SEO for real estate. You just created a custom page on your website to highlight a single beautiful home for sale.
You can use meta tags to help search engines understand what that the page is about and for. You can include information about the property, specify that it is intended for sale, direct search engines to ignore other similar pages and even tell them to ignore the page after a set time.
The most simple (and essential) meta tags are things like the title, meta description, and image alt tags. For instance, you might include a title tag that says "Stunning 3-Bedroom Home for Sale in XYZ Neighborhood," and a meta description that provides a brief summary of the property's features and location.
You could also include tags that indicate the date the listing was added or updated.
This information could increase the visibility of your listing and attract more potential buyers to your website. Here's a quick list of some of the most important forms of meta data that you can add to a page:
- Open Graph Tags - OG Tags are used by social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to determine how the preview of a page is displayed when it is shared.
- Schema Markup - Schema markup is a type of metadata that can be added to a web page to help search engines understand the content on the page. Read more with our deep dive into schema markup for real estate.
- Canonical Tags - Canonical tags are used to indicate the preferred version of a web page when there are multiple versions of the same content. For real estate websites, this can be important when dealing with similar property listings or pages that use URL parameters.
- Robots Meta Tags - These tags are used to tell search engines how to crawl and index a page. They can be used to prevent search engines from indexing certain pages, among other things.
- Hreflang Tags - Hreflang tags are used to indicate the language and regional targeting of a page.
- Title Tags and Meta Descriptions - While not technically "advanced", title tags and meta descriptions are still important meta tags for SEO. Read more with our guide to real estate meta descriptions.
Advanced Meta Tags
Here's a simple breakdown of the intended purpose of some advanced tags, including examples of when and how they should be used.
Possibly the most misunderstood of meta tags, rel="canonical" seems to pop up all over the place—and rarely where it should!
Intended Purpose: To tell search engines the original source of content, when 2 or more copies of that content exists. When duplicate content is found on your site, it could mark it as being lower-quality or spammy, harming your search rankings.
Best Use: To give credit to the original source of content, when you're republishing that content on another page of the same site or different site. The canonical tag is particularly useful when your site creates new, separate pages for different users, sessions, products, or search parameters.
Common Misuse: Implementing canonical tags on pages that look similar, but aren't actually duplicate content, such as paginated listings pages or tabbed listing details content. Canonical tags should only be used when content is essentially identical.
The noindex tag is actually a message to bots, asking those bots not to include the page in the index. Note that noindexed pages will still be crawled.
Intended Purpose: To ask search engines to exclude a specific page (or set of pages) from the search engine results.
Best Use: To eliminate pages that you don't want included in search engine results, such as a promotion that has expired. Noindex can also be used to eliminate your low performing or "too similar but competing" pages from SERPs. Note: doing this incorrectly can be catastrophic for a site; always consult a trusted SEO expert first.
Common Misuse: Using noindex to hide private documents. Google respects noindex requests, but not all search engine robots are as honourable.
Robots.txt isn't actually a meta tag, but it comes up a lot when discussing them! A robots.txt file tells Google not to crawl specific pages (or sections of the site), but does allow those pages to be indexed.
Intended Purpose: To ensure search engine bots aren't wasting time by crawling pages of low importance.
Best Use: Don't. Most sites don't need one. If you want a robots.txt file, use it to ask crawlers not to spend their dedicated time for your site on pages or sections that are of low importance.
Common Misuse: Using robots.txt instead of noindex to eliminate results from the SERPs. Also, using robots.txt to hide private documents—search engines often still include the URLs of these pages in SERPs.
Robots Meta Tag vs Robots.txt
The robots meta tag is a piece of HTML code that is placed in the head section of a webpage, providing instructions to search engines on how to handle just that page, whereas a robots.txt file is a text file that is placed in the root directory of a website, providing instructions on how to crawl the entire site.
Link tags, such as "nofollow", are used to control how search engines follow and crawl links on a web page. When a link is tagged with "nofollow", it tells search engines not to follow that link and not to pass any authority or ranking signals to the linked page. Overall, the "nofollow" attribute is a way to control the flow of link equity and authority on a web page, and can be used to prevent the manipulation of search engine rankings.
Intended Purpose: To ask search engines not to follow a specific link, or all links on a given page.
Best Use: To tag paid ads or links to content that you don't have control over. It can also be used to ask search engines not to follow links to low priority pages on the site, such as dashboard login pages or paginated pages, or to discourage the spamming of links in comment sections or forums.
Common Misuse: Using nofollow to heavily sculpt internal links instead of creating a logical navigation structure for a site.
A Few More For The Road
Here are a few more examples of meta tags that you may encounter or hear about:
- Viewport - This is used to specify the visible area of a page on mobile devices, helping a site to be more mobile-friendly and responsive.
- Refresh - This tag is used to automatically redirect visitors to a different page after a set amount of time. This can be useful for temporary redirects, but it should be used sparingly and carefully.
- Keywords - This is an antiquated tag that was used to tell search engines what keywords a page was targeting. Predictably, it was abused and is no longer used.
- Author - Used to indicate the author of a page, especially for blogs or other types of content where the author is important.
Don't make things harder for yourself...
It is for some, as too many people misunderstand these tags, and try to use advanced methods to accomplish tasks that are actually very basic.
By using a site that is well organized and logical, there should be very little need for advanced meta tags.
Get a well-built site for your needs and focus on what works. If the website comes from a reputable vendor, it should have all the meta tags sorted out for you. Don't expect anything less!