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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Meta Tags - Still Necessary?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One of the questions I get on a pretty regular basis is whether or not Met Tags are still important. To that I reply an undeniable, "Yes." For those who are not familiar with meta tags, lets start with a brief definition. Meta Tags are HTML elements used to provide information about a web page to search engines. Such elements must be placed as tags in the Head section of an HTML document.

Okay, so what's the bottom line? Meta Tags are important and should be at the very top of your web page code. Placement is important because you want search engines - like Google, to read your meta tags first. Today's search engine algorithms use the meta tags as validation tools. After reading your meta tags they're asking, "Is the content on your page related to the page description (metatags)?" "Are the meta tags telling me to perform special functions when reading this page?"

Meta Tags are your web site's instructions for defining the content and subject matter of your page. If your meta tags are inconsistent with your web page, it can hurt your search engine rankings. Here are some things to consider when developing meta tags for your web site.

1. Create relevant title, description, and keyword tags. You want to make sure that your primary meta tags are consistent with your page content. If they aren't, search engine spiders can discredit the content of your page. A great example of this would be a link farm. Because the pages are all so different (in most instances), there's no possible way that the meta tags would reflect the content of the page accurately, signaling a potential issue among search engine spiders.

2. Include the primary meta tags. Do your meta tags include the title tag, description tag, keyword tag and robots tag? These are the four primary tags. Your title tag should be no more than 7 words and description no more than 60 characters. This ensures that information is displayed correctly on search engine results. Additionally, the robots tag tells the search engine to read your entire web page.

3. Check for spelling errors. Your meta tags define what users see in search engine results listings. Take these tags seriously. If users see spelling or grammatical mistakes, they may choose to visit someone else's website.

4. Create unique meta tags for each web page. Use different meta tags for each page on your website. This is what makes each page unique. If you were to use the same meta tags on each page, search engines wouldn't know how to differentiate pages, devaluing the uniqueness of your content. Create value, and accurate information, with unique meta tags.

Meta tags are an important part of any website. Take your time in developing your meta tags and avoid common mistakes. These tags are still important to search engines, especially when it comes to defining your content and determining search engine placement.


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