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Meta Tags - What are They and Do I Need to Bother?


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Meta Tags are the HTML tags that sit in the Head of a HTML document. There are a number of different tags but to be honest there are really only three tags that we need to worry about when building webpages.

In the last few years, Meta Tags have really taken a hammering as Search Engine marketeers used Meta Tags to cram in as many Keywords as possible to influence their rankings. With this came a Search Engine backlash and they stopped using them as part of their Search Algorhythm - or at least that is what they have said. Maybe they did or maybe they didn't. What we are seeing though is that they are being used as part of determing what your webpages are about. So lets look at our three Tags. . . .

The Title Tag, The keyword Tag and the Description Tag.

The Title Tag

The Title Tag is the only Tag out of the three that you actually “see". The content of the Title Tag appears in the blue bar along the top of your browser.

It also usually appears as the clickable title in the Search Engine results. Of the three Tags, the Title Tag holds the most power.

It is essential that when writing a title for a webpage that you use the Keywords you wish to focus that page on as near to the beginning as possible.

Also as important is to make sure you have different titles for each page of your site.

The Title Tag sits normally right at the top of the HTML code and is sat inside HTML containers “title"

The Keyword Tag

The Meta Keyword tag is the most abused and misunderstood Tag of all time. Webmasters would cram these full of Keywords in the hope that they would rank for them, even if the Keyword they put in their Tag was not even on the page of content.

Make sure that all the Keywords you add to the Meta Keyword Tags are on the page. Make sure you include plurals of these Keywords too, but only if they are on the page of content.

Keep them fairly short - if your webpage only has three or four keywords on it, then just add these to your Keyword Tags. There is no rule that says you have to fill it up with junk.

The format for a Keyword Meta Tag is meta name="keywords" content="enter your keywords here separated by commas"

The Description Tag

Again, the Description Tag is fairly misunderstood in that lots of people claim it doesn't get used by any of the Search Engines and that it is a waste of time.

Recently Vanessa Fox, product manager for the Google webmaster tools, has confirmed that unique Meta Description Tags for each web page help Google determine the uniqueness of a web page. The Meta Description Tags are used to create the text snippets that are displayed in Google search results underneath the page heading.

She says: “Looking at your site in the search results, it appears that your pages would be well served by Meta Description Tags. For most queries, the generated snippet is based on where the query terms are found on the page, and in those cases, your results are fine. But for some more generic queries, where a logical snippet isn't found in the text, the generated snippet seems to be coming from the first bits of text from the page - in this case, boilerplate navigation that is the same for every page. "

While this is just Google, your Meta Description can be used by other Search Engines and Web Directories to describe your site when it appears in Search Engine Rankings.

The correct format for a Description Meta Tag is meta name="description" content="Enter your Description here. Try and keep your major Keywords near the front of this description. "

In conclusion

The three tags described above play a large part in your on-page Search Engine optimisation strategies. Get these right and you could be winging your way up the rankings without any outside influence from link building or other time consuming techniques. At the same token, get it wrong, you could be penalised.

If you are pulling your hair out trying to figure out ways of getting your site listed higher in Google or the other Search Engines, then maybe it is time to revisit your webcode. Make sure you have unique Titles Keywords and descriptions on every page of your site. Get these changed then sit back and watch what happens.

Remember, your pages are also not carved out of stone, you can amend then make changes and rework your Tags to see what effect they have on your rankings.

The Search Engines love to see constantly evolving pages so simply testing your Tags will help you.

Last tip : When all else fails remember - Search Engines see webpages not websites. Treat each page of your site as a separate and unique entity.

Jason specialises in helping small to medium sized businesses with their Internet Marketing. This includes both using an affiliate program as a advertiser and running a program as a publisher. Signup to his newsletter and receive a 7 day course on learning how to use different Internet Revenue Options. We also offer an Internet Marketing Coaching Club


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