Note: META Tags are not the end-all solution, the steps you take in integrating them throughout your site are.
Proper META Tag Placement:
Many people have asked me, "Is there a certain way the META Tags should be placed within the HTML?" Yes, there is. One problem you face when using HTML editors or automatic generated META Tag software is the incorrect placement of META Tags by the software. Just so there is no confusion, the basic META Tag placement is as follows:
NOTE: The maximum number of characters recommended for the TITLE Tag is 60.
Before we get too involved, let's start out with a few simple definitions: Search Engine
- Search Engines use crawlers to browse the expanse of the Web to search for new and updated pages. They will scan the entire website in some cases as well as any pages you have linked to your main page. The crawler then reports back and the information collected is indexed into the system. Finally, Search Engine users type in keywords and the Search Engine software retrieves relevant web pages. Directories
- Directories do not use crawlers and are not automatically updated. Directories are human powered indexes. Many of the automatic Search Engine strategies will not necessarily be as effective with Directory based indexes as with Search Engines, but they won't hurt your chances either. Directories look for good quality content which will increase the value of the Directory for its users. Crawlers
- This is the term referred to when the Search Engine collects information about sites on the Web.
META Tags - These are tags, written in the HEAD section of your HTML document. In essence, these tags tell the crawler information about your site. The two main tags talked about in this article are; Description, and Keywords.
The length of the description tag should be limited to 150 characters in length including tabs, spaces and carriage returns.
Search Engines do not like misleading keywords and descriptions; a good example is a site which uses keywords such as "nude" or "sex" when they are really in the business of say, selling web hosting services. While this may increase your hits, do you really want that crowd visiting your site? They probably won't fall into your "target audience" specifications (just a guess).
Search Engines do not like keyword stacking or stuffing (this includes using invisible keywords). As I said before, crawlers are getting "smarter." If they notice that you are trying to cram keywords all over your content, either visible or invisible, they will view it as spamming the Search Engine (so, be careful and don't purposefully do it).
Search Engines do not like duplicate pages. As I said before, crawlers are getting "smarter." This won't fly, so don't do it. Save your time for serious site promotion activities.
Finally, be sure to read each Search Engine's submission criteria fully. Some Search Engines will not even consider certain content and their submission criteria often provide useful Search Engine specific submission tips.
Phew! That was a mouthful, so if you are still with me, lets go over some META Tag strategy.
Creating effective keywords are the brick and mortar of Search Engine preparation.
1.Brainstorm by sitting down and hammering out a list of possible keywords you will use for your site. Just write them down, you can narrow them down later.
2.Ask others like your colleagues, friends and family will most likely have a different perspective than.
3.Type you initial list of keywords into multiple Search Engines and see what results pull up. Are you on the right track? Are the resulting sites listed similar to your site?
4.Visit your known competitors; see where they place on the Search Engines.
5.After steps 3 and 4 above, look at the site's source code and see what keywords they utilize (if they are listed high, they are obviously doing something right).
6.Narrow down your list. In doing this you need to decide whether you want to reach a broad market or a specific target market. If you are going for a specific target market (probably a good idea), make sure you narrow down your keywords.
7.Once you have your list, arrange them into a priority list.
The most important thing about submitting your site to the various Search Engines is using your keywords throughout your page. Your keywords should be in your Description, Title, Page Summary, Headlines, First Few Paragraphs, throughout your page content (but don't over use them, its really not as tricky as it sounds), and in your alt tags (especially if you use a lot of graphics).
The Higher the Better!
I cannot say this enough, while META Tags are not the end-all solution, the steps you take in integrating them throughout your site are.
The following are the DO'S and DO NOT'S when integrating keywords into your site's content in order of importance:
DO use as many of your important keywords in your Description.
DO use as many of your important keywords in your Title.
DO NOT have a Title like "Welcome to Company A's Site" or use broad and generic industry specific terms or phrases like "Web Host." Instead, be as descriptive as you can using as many of your keywords while making your Title intelligible. Also, try to avoid using filler words such as a, an, the, welcome, etc. - Search Engines will ignore them.
DO put a summary or headline at the top of your page utilizing as many of your keywords as possible. This will not only help your relevancy, it will also serve as your page description for Search Engines that do not support META Tags.
Note: If your page contains frames (you know how most people feel about frames!), tables or blocks of code, remember that Search Engines search top down. The higher your keywords are on your page, the more relevant your site will seem to the Search Engines because they will be the first words read by them. Also if you have a splash page or use image maps on your home page, try to have hyper linked text (some Search Engines cannot follow image maps).
Do include your keywords in your first paragraphs. Again, this will help show relevance to the Search Engines and will help increase your ranking.
In summary, good keyword integration throughout your site's content will work wonders for you when your site is being indexed. Spend some time thinking about your site and what you want its first impression to be. Too many times, webmasters don't have enough patience when it comes to this part. While building a quality site is impressive, the goal is to have many people visit your creation. Take some time and do it right the first time.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish you much success!
0--written by Cade Fox, an Editor and Information Architect for e-Massmarketing.com. Your Success is Our Mission. Profit from our publications: e-Massmarketing On-line Magazine, e-Massmarketing Weekly Newsletter http://www.e-massmarketing.com