How to Effectively Use Meta Tags

shutterstock_147422858What are meta tags and do you really need to be concerned about them? A meta tag refers to a line of HTML coding. This line contains your webpage’s metadata. While this information will likely not ever be viewed by a visitor to your website and it will not change the appearance of your website, meta tags are still important.

Meta tags include meta description tags, title tags and meta keywords tags. The purpose of these tags is to provide Web crawlers with information about your webpage. They are also beneficial for search engine optimization. For instance, by using meta tags, Web crawlers can often more easily index your Web pages. While not all Web crawlers pay attention to meta tags, it is still worth it to learn how to create effective meta tags so that you can gain greater visibility on those search engines that use them. Although Google actually creates its own search engine descriptions from snippets retrieved from the website content, others do rely on the descriptions you supply. Additionally, directories such as Yahoo Directory are not actually search engines at all. Consequently, they rely solely on the descriptions that you provide when you submit your website.
The title tag incorporates the search keyword used in the title of your HTML document. This is necessary so that when a query is run using that specific keyword, your website will be automatically located from the index list of websites containing that same keyword. In writing effective title tags, it is important to keep in mind that the length of your title tag should not exceed 100 characters, which is approximately 10 words.

You will also need a meta description tag. The meta description tag provides a brief description about the content that can be found on that webpage. While writing meta description tags, it should be kept in mind that most search engines today will only read about 255 characters within a meta description tag. Anything else is simply wasted space, so try to limit the length of your meta description tag to about one to two sentences. This tag is particularly important because it can potentially influence where exactly your website appears in search results.

Keep in mind the importance of utilizing keywords properly when writing meta tags. Keywords are vital, but you need to take care in the selection of your keywords. For example, real estate is a fairly broad keyword phrase. This will actually reduce the chance that your website will appear in the search engine results. Instead, you should try to be more specific, such as Philadelphia Real Estate, or hone it even more by entering Philadelphia Residential Real Estate. Keywords should also be organized in your title based on their importance. The most important keywords should be placed first, followed by least important keywords.

When it comes to the title tag, it can be a balancing act to ensure that the title is descriptive while still containing a good concentration of keywords. Rather than simply using your company name, consider: “Children’s Fashions at Linda’s Boutique.”

In addition, try to be unique and different with your approach. Remember that your meta title and meta description are often what prospective visitors will see in the search engine results and will be the deciding factor determining whether they click on the link to visit your site. A different tag line should be used for each page. Do not make the mistake of using a single tag line for each page of your website. Each tag line should reflect the unique content of that page.

After you have created your meta tags, you will need to add them to your webpage so that they can be found and go to work driving traffic to your website. The process by which you add meta tags to your web page may depend based on the website builder you are using. For instance, if you use Network Solutions, then you will need to follow a series of steps beginning by logging into your ImageCafe and then going to the Use Your Web Site Tools section, located under Search Engine Submission Tools. From there, you can click on the Meta Tags link. There, you will see a section where you can enter the Page Title, Page Description, and Keywords section. When you are finished, simply click Finish and then Go Live. Your meta tags will then be active. You can also use this same process any time that you want to update your meta tags, a step that you should take periodically or anytime that your website content changes.

Meta tags can prove to be crucial to the performance of your website. By developing an understanding of how to write effective meta tags and keep them updated, you can boost your website’s visibility.

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2014