How to use meta tags

Meta Tagging

The use of meta tags is perhaps not as effective as it once was, although it still has value and they should be included on practically every page you create.

Meta tags are basically notes in the head part of the html code on a web page which can provide a certain document information to search engine spiders*. The ones we are really interested in though are the "description" and "keywords" tags.

They look like this:

<meta name="description" content="Building Search Engine Based Web Traffic - Professional advice to get visitors to your Web site and keep them there !">

<meta name="keywords" content="web traffic, web site traffic, search engine traffic, website, internet marketing, consultants, company, service, online, advice, resource, help">

The tags "description" and "keywords" were originally developed as a way of marking a document so that search engines could determine its contents. It became the search engines primary method of ranking a document. But as you can imagine this was open to abuse and it didn't take long for some realise that if you "stuffed" these tags with keywords you wanted to rank for, you could very easily appear top of the search listings with little efforts.

At the time around '96, Infoseek was pretty much the most popular engine, and it had a very nice feature. It refreshed it's index at least once a day. So all anyone had to do was cram their meta tags on every page they had with a keyphrase repeated 100 times, and 'bobs yer uncle !' - #1 slot in Infoseek and traffic would come pouring in.

Of course after a while search engines realised that they were getting flooded with "stuffed" pages which was reducing the quality of their indexes and so they developed a few techniques to counter act it. Like creating filters to check for repetitive keyword usage in the meta tags. Also full document indexing is now as standard so there is no way you can disguise a documents content by stuffing the meta tags.

Title Tag

Some engines have now pretty much developed algorithm's that ignore the meta data and concentrate on only the TITLE tag and the body content. Currently the TITLE tag is the most important in describing the document contents and is a priority factor in site optimization. You really need to get the title right by giving it a good mix of keywords in the right order. Use company name, service/product offered, and if appropriate, location. Perhaps something like:

<title>Mad Traffic - Web Traffic Consultants - England UK</title>

It's worth using a good description on each page too. It'll pay to be honest and try and keep it simple, no more than 20 words.

Remember: Your title and description are likely to be the first thing your potential visitor is going to know about you, so make them GRAB their attention !


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:: Meta Tags :: What's the importance of meta tagging and and Title tags.
:: Content :: How much do you need? Keyword Density? Which HTML tags do the SE's really love.
:: Document Architecture :: How should you structure your pages, navigation and links?
:: Site Architecture :: What's the right way to structure your site so it can be easily crawled ...