When it comes to search engine optimization and search engine marketing, every SEO expert has their own way of trying to get a site on the first page of Google. There are so many different tips and tricks that people use because there are no absolute set guidelines for how to optimize a website. However, there is one section of code that contains vital tags that should be found on any website that is being optimized and that is the head code (code located between opening and closing head tags). This section should contain your title tag and your meta tags because this is code that is specifically for the search engines. SEO expert Matt Cutts from Google gave an interview with USA Today and he mentions a few tips about this section of code. He mentions that there are multiple meta tags that you should use but does not say exactly which ones. Below is a list and description of the best tags to use in this head code.
The Title Tag
According to Cutts, the title tag is one of the most important key tags to include in your website. This tag is what is usually displayed in the search results as well as at the top of your browser when you open a site. This tag should be the first piece of code after your opening head tag and it should have the name of your company and should include your keyword/keywords. You also have to keep in mind that Google hates keyword spamming so don't just list off your keywords in the title tag; make it look natural. Search engines also only give weight to the first few words or so; so don't make a title tag that is a full length sentence.
Meta keywords Tag
This tag is used to list the keywords that you want to be optimized for and what your site is about. A lot of people will fill this tag with a ridiculous amount of keywords, thinking that they are increasing the amount of words they will appear on. WRONG! This tag should only display the keywords that show up multiple times throughout that specific page of your website. This usually means around 3-5 keywords but definitely no more than 10 should be listed here. This tag is basically just preparing the search engine spider for what it is going to find throughout the page so there is no sense in using keywords that you do not have anywhere on that page. “Don't worry that much about the keywords tag, " states Matt, “but there are a lot of other tags that you can use. "
Meta Description Tag
This is another very important key tag that you definitely want to include in your head code. Your description is what usually shows up right under the name of your company in the search results. Keep this description short and sweet and make sure it is rich with keywords (again, stay away from keyword spamming). Your description should start off with your primary keyword within the first couple words and then try and add a few other minor keywords within the sentence while making sure it still sounds like an actual sentence. Keep the description to less than or around 160 characters because that is all that is displayed by most search engines.
Meta Robots Tag
This meta tag is for specifying what the search engine robots can and cannot do when they reach your site. There are five terms that can be applied to the robots tag to tell the search-bots what to do when they get to the site: none, noindex, nofollow, all, index and follow. These terms need to be separated by commas if more than one is being used in the robots tag.
- None - robots are to ignore the page completely
- Noindex - page may not be indexed by the search engine
- Nofollow - robots should not follow any links within the current page
- All - robots are free to index the page and follow all links on the page
- Index - robots can include the page in their search results
- Follow - robots are welcome to follow links contained within the page
There is also a robots. txt file that can be placed inside your root folder that can specify sections of your site to ignore and you can specify this for each search engine (robotstxt.org).
Meta Googlebot Tag
The Googlebot follows the same terms as the robots tag and an additional noarchive term. It is good to use this tag if you are applying the noindex, nofollow or noarchive terms to the robots tag because this can cause the Googlebot to not index, not follow and/or not archive the page. In the other sense you can tell the Googlebot to index and follow to guarantee that the Googlebot will index the page and follow the links on the page.
Meta MSNbot Tag
The MSNbot follows the same terms as the robots tag so using these in the robots tag can cause the MSNbot to not index the page or not follow the links. You can also use the “all" term to ensure that the MSNbot indexes the page and follows the links.
There are quite a few other meta tags that are out there that may be used for your specific application but for SEO purposes these are the best meta tags to use. Also keep in mind, just using the meta tag does not mean anything; it is the way you use it and how it accurately represents the actual content on your website that matters.
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Matt Cutts Interview with USA Today