Part IV: Marketing your Website

Search Engine Optimization – Meta Tag Tips

by Pauline Sugarman

This article reviews meta tags and their role in search engine optimization.

Meta Tags are pieces of information, coding, inserted into the Head portion of your web page. The information placed in these tags, with the exception of the Title tag, is never seen by the visitors to your web page, but the search engines can read the tags when they are crawling through your website.

While Google still considers the Title Tag to be of importance, Yahoo and other search engines to varying degrees, also give weight to the Description Meta tag and the Keyword Meta tag.

The following meta tag tips, when used properly, can help to boost your ranking in the search engines.

Title Meta Tag

Of all the meta tag tips I can offer this is the most important as it is the one meta tag that Google still gives weight to.  The text that is placed in the Title tag will appear at the top of the web page when you are viewing it in a browser, such as Explorer or Netscape. It is also used to describe your page when a Bookmark or Favorites added to someone’s list. All other search engines also use the Title tag as an important factor in determining relevancy. This makes the Title tag the MOST important Meta tag.

To create the most powerful Title tag you can, take the 2-3 keyword phrases from the copy on your page and use them to create a descriptive title for that page. Keep the title tag to 10 to 11 words or 60-115 characters. Google uses between 63 and 67 characters including spaces, after which it replaces the remaining characters with ellipses (...).  Yahoo displays up to 90 or more characters.  MSN displays up to 69 characters.  In all, you would probably be safest sticking with Google's number.  You may repeat keywords two times but make sure to separate each usage by at least one word.

Description Meta Tag - No longer Important

The Description tag is used by search engines in varying degrees to create the description that accompanies your listing in the search results. Google ignores this meta tag and creates its own description. Teoma, which powers Ask Jeeves uses it the most. Others, such as Yahoo support it partially. Its importance really matters very little these days in terms of search engine rankings but is worth putting some attention for its ability to help you define the text that accompanies your listing in the search engine results. 

The Description Tag should contain no more than 30 words. (200 characters or a sentence or two) and can include the keyword phrases for that page. You may also include your domain name and your business name. You may repeat each key word phrase two times, but as in your Title tag, make sure the repetition is separated by at least one word.

Keyword Meta Tag - Really No longer Important

In the world of meta tag tips, this keyword meta tag section is important - for the sole reason that, unbeknownst to many people, its significance has diminished to almost nil.  The Keyword Meta Tag used to be very important but is hardly used at all now due to misuse by search engine spammers. Goggle completely ignores the keyword tag, but Yahoo, and all its search properties including Inktomi (a part of Yahoo that MSN uses - it is also “backfill” for numerous directories and search engines.) and Teoma (Ask Jeeves) still index its contents but that does not necessarily mean it will affect your rankings.

Use this tag on your home page to place your 2-3 key word phrases followed by misspellings and synonyms for those keywords. If time permits, (really) create a keyword tag for your other pages as well. Separate each keyword phrase with a comma.

Now that we have reviewed meta tag tips, we will explore the ever growing importance of Links in search engine optimization...

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