Monday, 18 March 2013

Understanding Meta Tags

Meta tags are used to provide additional information about your web page to search engines. Meta tags are placed at the top of your page in the HTML coding. Your visitors will not see the meta tags on your website; they are only used by search engines when your website is crawled.

Meta tags consist of a description and keywords. Each page of your website should have its own meta tags and should reflect the content of that page.If your website does not have a meta description, when your website displays in search results the description will generally show the first few sentences on the front page of your website. Sometimes this is not the most accurate description of your site, which is why it is best to create your own clear description. This description should be a concise summary of what your website offers; for example if your site is about town planning, make sure that the words "town" and "planning" are prominently displayed in the description. 

Meta keywords are words or short phrases that describe your website. Not sure what keywords to use? The Google Analytics tool is a great reference source as it will display the average number of local monthly searches for a particular keyword. Why is this helpful? You will be able to select words that you know people are using when looking for goods and services related to your business or industry. Using these keywords within your description is also beneficial. However don’t go crazy, if the keywords do not match the site content, then it will not help your site listing, as the robots that use these keywords will also search the website’s pages for the keywords mentioned.

The website title is also important. The HTML title tag isn’t a meta tag. Your title is different to the meta tags, in that it is written with both people and search engines in mind. This is the text that appears as the clickable link on a search engine results page. It’s important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page of your site, particularly for large sites, so that it’s clear which particular page you are looking at, keeping in mind that individual pages are indexed and shown on the search results page. 

General recommendations for how many characters to include for each tag:

Title tag: 5-10 words, including your company name and relevant keywords, 60-70 characters Description tag: concise summary of the page, between 150-160 characters 
Keyword tag: keep your keywords simple and relevant, 6-12 keywords per page

Ideally you want to give your website the best possible chance of being found by search engines, and adding both meta tags and title tags to each page of your site is a simple way of boosting your website's listing and appearance in search engine results. It is not a miracle solution but every bit helps. 

At Media Gain, including meta and title tags is not an add-on which incurs an additional cost, as is the case with some web designers. Rather, this is standard practice for all the websites we build. 

To read this article in a downloadable PDF please click here
Written by +Denise Angus

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