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meta tags

  • Meta tags are included in the html, between the <head> and </head> at the top of the document
  • It is crucial to get the correct information in these as this could decide whether or not your web site is listed
  • The meta tags (in the HTML of each page) for title, keywords and description should be utilized to their full value, and match keywords that appear in the body of the page
    • Ensuring these keywords and phrases are in the page headings, body content and links is highly beneficial
    • Do not repeat them more than five times on a page though - search engines can pick this up as spamming
  • Some search engines (not all) use meta tags to obtain the information about your site - directories don't use them
  • Meta tags are an important aspect of search engine optimization
  • See also - adding meta tags to pages made from Dreamweaver templates

step by step instructions

planning

  1. Think of a short keyword intensive phrase for the page
    • Use this as the page title
    • Keep to 90-150 characters or less (incl. spaces, punctuation etc.)
      <title>Meta tags for search engine optimization<title>
  2. Use this phrase as the basis for a short paragraph for the description meta tag
    • Do not split the phrase up in the paragraph - keep it intact
    • It is beneficial to include any other keyword phrases may be relevant for the page
    • Keep to 250 characters (incl. spaces, punctuation etc.)
      <meta name="description" content="Meta tags for search engine optimization, including page title, keywords and description.">
  3. Use this description paragraph as the opening paragraph in the main content of the page
    • n.b. There is not much point putting keywords in the description meta tag if they are not included in the actual body content anywhere
  4. Think of any other possible keyword/keyword phrases which are relevant to the page
    • Use these and the keywords from the title and description for the keywords meta tag
    • <meta name="keywords" content="meta tags search engine optimization keywords description page title">

title

The <title> tag is becoming increasingly important to listings.

  • It should be descriptive, but short (about 150 characters)
  • Include keywords
    • Build it around a target phrase for the page
    • It needs to make sense as a sentence, but try to limit the use of irrelevant words (a, the, etc.)
    • Try to make it specific to your web site
    • Never over the top, marketing hype "we are the best site etc."
      • Is not descriptive or include valuable keywords
      • Can get you kicked off certain search engines/directories!
  • What the user sees at the top of their browser and therefore what is shown when they bookmark a page - make it useful!

description

The description (<meta name="description" content="This is what the user sees when the search engine displays the site in a list among all other similar sites and can sway which they click on">)

  • This should be informative and not too long (there are recommended limits - around 250 characters) as only a set number of characters will be displayed
  • Should include keyword phrases
    • Ideally keywords which are repeated in the title and body content of the page
    • Put your most important keywords at the beginning of the
      description
    • Don't use too many stop words (a, on, the, etc) - search engines don't index them - wastes your description

keywords

The keywords (<meta name="keywords" content="keyword keyword keyword">)

  • These are the possible keywords a user may submit when searching for information
  • It is worth putting in variations, acronyms (e.g. employment, vacancies, jobs, careers) and spelling mistakes of words
  • Use plural over singular
  • Don't use commas between keywords:
    • Adds characters and separates words which may be searched for together
    • Makes repeating of words harder (SEs don't like repetition)
    • Experiment - if no commas isn't helping your listing, reassess after a few months
  • 1000 characters (or less) in total - more is just ignored
  • Don't repeat a keyword more then 3 times
    • Be careful over variations of the same word (e.g. cook, cooked, cooking)
  • Match with important keywords in the body content of the page