Welcome to the 1st edition of Meta tags 101.

First and foremost what are Meta tags?

Defined by Ryan Pais – an executive from SEO5 Consulting – as “a web pages short description to the search engine.”, the purpose of a Meta tag (which is not visible on the web page) is to list the most relevant keywords to the web page in order to acquire more accurate search engine identification.

So let’s start from the beginning, the most fundamental part of a Meta tag is the keyword. We use keywords in metatags to describe to both the search engine as well as the final user what a particular page or website is about.  In order to get listed accurately in any search engine, each page of your site needs to be optimized to the best of your ability (Keyword relevance in the metatag to the content on a page is essential).  Keywords are an ESSENTIAL element to any SEO campaign as the keywords chosen will be targeted right through the optimization process.

Keywords to use in Metatags – Tips

  • RCS - Keywords should be Relevant to the Page, Consistent throughout the Meta title, Meta description, Header Tags, Content and Simple (do not excessively use either the same keyword or too many keywords on one page). REMEMBER keep it RCS!
  • Stay Focused – Do not try to optimize one page of your website for 15 keywords as this will get your website nowhere on the search engine. Always remain Focused and select around 2 – 3 keywords for optimizing a particular page of your website.

So what makes up a Meta tag?

(1)    TITLE Tag

(2)    DESCRIPTION Tag

(3)     KEYWORD Tag

Title Tag

The Title tag is one of the most important factors to consider in terms of optimizing your web page, as most search engines & directories place a high level of importance on keywords that are found within your title tag.  In fact the Title Tag is the first point of contact a website has with a client in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page).

Title tags character limits vary according to search engines;

Google indexes approximately 62-65 characters with spaces

Bing indexes approximately 60 characters with spaces

Yahoo indexes approximately 72 Characters with spaces and

Ask.com indexes approximately 69 characters with spaces.

Tips

  • Make sure to have 1-2 of your most important keyword phrases that are relevant to your webpage in the title, BUT not just any keywords as the search engines can view it as spam and blacklist it
  • Make your title appealing! But don’t get caught up in the hype
  • Always place keywords at the beginning to maximize exposure and more importantly to eliminate the risk of them being cut off
  • Each page should have its own title tag with specific keywords that relate to the page
  • Use vertical bars to separate ideas and use symbols instead of words for example “&” instead of “and” to reduce the amount of characters

Description Tag

Though not visible to the common eye (other than in the SERP’s), a description tag is a short accurate description that allows the intelligent search engine spiders to find the essence of a web page.

Description tags also vary according to search engines;

Google indexes approximately 156 to 160 characters with spaces,

Yahoo indexes approximately 161 characters with spaces,

Bing indexes approximately 150 characters that with spaces and

Ask. Com indexes approximately 312 characters with spaces.

Tips

  • Include 3-4 of your most import keyword phrases
  • Make sure the content of the page is described precisely in order to direct traffic to your website and avoid recording a high bounce rate.
  • Try to have your most important keywords appear at the beginning of your description. This often brings better results, and will help avoid having any search engine cut off your keywords

Meta keyword Tag

So what is a Meta keyword tag and is it really that important?

Meta keyword tag is described as the highlights of keywords in the title and description.  Since it was abused in the ancient days of Internet search, Meta keyword tags now do not, I repeat DO NOT play an important factor in ranking a particular website on the search engine.  In the video below Google expert Matt Cutts advises that Google does not use the Meta keywords tag in their search results at all.  Other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com seem to agree with this, so now we know folks spending time on Meta keyword tags not worth it.

Suggested tips from Bing’s Webmaster center blog

  • Choose words that may be secondary keyword terms (save the primary keywords for use in the <title> and <meta> description tags), and even include a few, commonly seen typographical errors of primary keywords, just for good measure
  • Limit your keyword and key phrase text, separated by commas, to no more than 874 characters
  • Don’t repeat a keyword more than 4 times among the keywords and phrases in the list

Well until next time enjoy the video