Articles, Tips, Definitions
META Tags: The Ugly Truth
This is the most talked about, least understood
aspect of Search Engine Positioning and Site Promotion.
What worked four or five years ago is ineffective
today, yet ignorant or unscrupulous design firms
are still promising that the right META Tags will
help your site rank well.
The truth is that some META tags can be helpful,
a few are mandatory, but even the best are nowhere
near as important as the content and content
type of your site.
It's All About Money, er... "Relevancy"
Hate to burst your bubble, but search engines
are in it for the money. The more searches
they deliver, the more money they can charge
for advertising, sponsored links, or preferred
ranking on their sites.
When search engine users get good results, they
return to the search engine again and again — so
there's always a fierce battle to develop the best
secret algorithm (mathematical formula) to deliver
the most qualified web sites (best search results)
to end users.
Each engine uses a different algorithm, which
explains why you can rank well on one engine, and
not rank well, or not appear at all on another.
Search engines look for "Relevancy" — the
measure of how well your site delivers what a visitor
is searching for. The absolute best way to rank
well across all engines is to have good site content,
written and formatted specifically to match expected
What are META tags?
META tags are a group of coded instructions that
appear in the invisible, or HEAD section of a web
page. They look like this:
<META name="keywords" content="search, search
terms, keywords, listed here">
The META Keyword tag was intended to be used to
index web sites on search engines. It was immediately
targeted and abused by webmasters seeking high
rankings, regardless of the revelance of their
site. The Keyword tag is now entirely ignored by
some engines, but still used by others as a secondary validation
of site relevance.
The META tags that are absolutely mandatory for
ranking are the Title and Description tags, which
most (not all!) engines use to display the name
and summary description of your site. The Keywords
tag still carries enough weight that it should
still be used, but within the guidelines below.
META Tags Done Right
The TITLE tag should come first, and include one
or more search terms that also appear in page content.
The most important part of your site description
should be included in the first 150 characters
of the DESCRIPTION tag.
KEYWORDS should be manually edited for each page
you care about and apply to the content of that
page. Only the first 1,000 characters matter, never
repeat the same word more than twice, and not twice
in a row or you may be flagged for "spamming."
Staying out of META Trouble
If you use someone else's trademarked name or
phrase in an invisible area of your page, such
as META tags, you're just asking for trouble.
While there are legitimate uses, such as a vendor
or distributor who provides a trademarked product
or service, any attempt to direct searchers to
your site using a competitor's trademarked term
is a bad idea.
There are "fair use" laws which allow you to compare
or differentiate your product from that of a competitor — clearly
visible and in the body of your page.
META Tags are important, but nowhere near as important
as they used to be. Be sure you have the important
tags done right, and spend the rest of your energy
developing good site content.
Was this information helpful to you?
» We'd love
to hear from you ...