ABOUT META TAGS & SEO
You’ve designed your website or blog, and sent links to all your friends and customers. Now what?
How are new people, potential customers or readers, supposed to find your website?
They search and basically, find it “by accident”!
Only…it’s not an accident if you plan correctly. There is a whole industry devoted to getting websites found, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It can cost a lot of money to hire professionals to perform the services of optomizing your website, as it is often a separate service from the design of your site.
But there are some basics you can do yourself. These are general recommendations; always determine the optimum guideline for your site based on your search engine target.
The following tips are no guarantee; The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages and it is estimated that Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals (in December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results).
But a few basic changes you can make to your site can help while you work on networking and marketing getting your site out there!
Every web page is created using code or programming language; the most basic is HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language).
Inside the “head” area of your website code is information called Meta Tags. This code does not display when the page is viewed in the web browser, but is seen by the search engines.
The first Meta Tag that needs to be customized for your website (and actually, for each page of your website) is the TITLE tag.
Your TITLE tag should be 5 – 10 words, including the company name and relevant keywords, a maximum total of 90 characters with spaces (90 cws).
It is important to make your TITLE tag be clear and accurate, because this text will appear in the reverse bar of the viewer’s browser and will be the words used to describe your page when someone adds it to their “Favorites” or “Bookmarks” lists.
The next Meta Tag is called the DESCRIPTION tag. This information should contain a concise summary of the page, with an upper limit of 170 characters with spaces (170 cws).
When you write your DESCRIPTION tag, try to include the most logical and obvious words a person searching for your website might use to find it. This description can be different for each page of your website. When I design a website for a client, I always check to see what the competition has used for their description. I see if there are words I need to make sure to include in my description as well as look for words I can use that are unique and personal to the site I am designing.
One search engine expert says, “Consider your site branding and navigation issues” so make sure to include things like geographic location(s).
If you have enough different content on the various pages of your website, consider creating an individual, page specific title and description.
The DESCRIPTION tag is what will display as the description of your page in the crawlers that support the tag (if your description is too long then only a portion will show.) Note however, Google ignores this, and instead automatically generates its own description for web pages.
The last Meta Tag is the KEYWORD tag. This content is only supported by a few crawlers, so it has less impact on successful search results than in days past. Adding keywords to your tags at random will do very little to help searchers find you, what is important is to use words as keywords which ALSO appear in your body copy. So it is keywords in conjunction with actual content that will help your site get found.
Limit the words in your KEYWORD tag to an upper limit of 900 characters with spaces – keep it simple and relevant. 10 – 20 Keywords per page (900 cws).
Keywords done wrong, are actually one of the coding erros that can do more harm than good – if you repeat a particular word too often in a meta keywords tag and you could actually harm your page’s chances of ranking well!! Spamdexing (also known as search spam, search engine spam, web spam) is uncovered when modern search engines analyze a page for keyword stuffing and determine whether the frequency is consistent with other sites, and whether the keywords are actually created specifically to attract search engine traffic. The result of “Meta-tag stuffing” is a lower rank…the opposite of what you are trying to achieve!
So keep your keywords relevant and accurate if you use them at all. It is really not worth the effort to customize the keywords for every page of your website unless you have very different content, or loads of free time to write code!
Then…review your web statistics on a regular basis and see what is working. How are visitors finding your site? Do you see one search term used more often than others? Consider incorporating that into your description if it is not already, as well as into the content of your actual website body copy.
Keeping your content fresh and new is one of the best ways to keep your current customers and readers coming back, and new traffic headed your way!
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