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Friday, 9 March 2012

Optimize Your META Tags

The meta description tag or element does not appear anywhere on a web page, so why bother making it part of your on-page optimization strategy?  Because optimizing it can drastically influence the amount of organic traffic you get from search engines once your URL begins to rank well.

META tags are hidden code read only by search engine webcrawlers (also called spiders). They live within the HEAD section of a web page. There are actually 2 very important META tags you need to worry about: description and keywords. Meta tags summarize what the site is about, and despite some SEO controversy, they still play an instrumental role in meta-based search engines. The META tags you need to be the most concerned about are:
  1. Description
  2. Keywords
Sequencing of these tags may be extremely important. I say "may" because SEO is mostly hypothesis due to the changing algorithms of the search engines. Even though the W3C states that tag attributes do not have to be in any particular sequence, I've noticed a significant difference when I have the tags and attributes in the order described here. The only deviation from the list above is that the Title tag should come before the META description.

The description META tag is the text that will be displayed under your title on the results page. See the OC Internet Advertising example above. There's also a lot of controversy about the number of characters you should have in this tag. I've seen sites with a paragraph in their description listed in the top results, so I don't think the number of characters here plays any kind of role with the search engines.
However, if you want the listing to look clear and to the point, META tag would be to keep it under 150 characters and to not repeat your keywords more than 3 times. It may be a coincidence, but I've also noticed ranking improvements when I put my keywords at the beginning of the description. Here's the syntax:

<meta name="description" content="your_keywords_here followed by a statement about your product service or organization." />

The last important META tag is the keywords META tag, which some time ago lost a lot of points in Google's search engine algorithm. this tag is still important to many other search engines and should not be ignored. Based on my experience with this tag, you can have approximately 800 characters in this tag (including spaces).
 if you repeat your keywords more than 3 times it can be a pretty good indication to the search engine that you are trying to spam their search results. Also, don't waste your time including keywords that aren't used in the BODY section of your website, that could be seen as another spam technique. Here's the syntax used on this 

<meta name="keywords" content="top 10 seo tips, what is seo, resources, seo software, seo ebook, search engine optimization" />

<meta name=”description” content=”This is a sample meta description value.”>
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a sample meta description value.” />
depending on whether the document is HTML or XHTML, respectively.

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