How to write terrible meta tags

Hi and welcome to the Second Episode of “the oldest SEO trainee diary”

It was an exhilarating week last week, both at work and at home. My pearl scale goldfish has started swimming face down in his tank and I covered a number of very interesting subjects in my training schedule, one of which being the damn scary subject of writing meta tags. So most of the week was spent stressing over both my perpendicular fish and the writing of these little meta devils, I must admit that I messed up most of the tags I was asked to write. I have however written and edited quite a few for various clients now and finally feel I have a grasp on the slippery optimisation slope of life and a foothold shaped like a perfect meta Tag.

First a little introduction to “The meta Tag family”:

Mr title tag (He isn’t really a meta Tag, he’s a header, but since him and Mrs description tag have been dating so long, he is practically her common law husband so we call him a meta).
The title looks like this I tell you what the page is and should be only 60 characters long, so that it fits in the restricted area shown in the search results.

The title tag is one of the most important factors, used by the search engines in determining a pages relevancy? It is also attributed a weighting in most of the big search engines ranking algorithm. Due to its importance a lot of thought should go into the choice of keywords that go into this tag, the most important keywords (this will be shown at the top of your keyword selection) should always be included in the title and any others you can add are a bonus. Make sure however that the title is readable and descriptive and not merely a list of promoted terms

Mrs Description Tag
Mrs description tag looks like this and should be only 150 characters long, around 250 characters can be indexed but only 150 of them will appear in the search results, so I would write 150 to maximum 155 characters, think about it as keeping her weight down.
This tag describes the content of your page and is what you will see when you run a keyword search. I always think of this as the textual window to your website, for this reason your description should be concise, use a basic layout, contain optimised key words, act as POS for your site with a good call to action and be readable for potential users.

Miss Keyword Tag
The little miss keyword tag looks like this
There are lots of differing opinions about little miss Keyword meta tag. Some will argue that;

• Putting your keywords here is giving your competitors the edge
• It is ideal for adding misspellings, plural variations, cultural nuances and industry jargon that would not be added into the page copy or title and description.
• Most search engines put very little, if any weighting on this tag.
• Some smaller engines still pay attention to these keywords for ranking

I am of the opinion, that unless we are officially informed that this tag is redundant, then we will continue to use it in the meta Tags.

Examples:

So let’s say we have a Dog walking company in London Westminster called Barkies. We decide on the key words: “Dog walkers Westminster, Barkies dog walkers, Dog walker in central London, dog walk green park, trained dog handlers”

A good title tag would be:

Barkies dog walkers Westminster – based in Central London’s Green Park

Starting with the main key words i.e. dog walkers Westminster and Barkies dog walkers, we have also managed to get another 2 terms in the title with Central London and Green Park and they are all in order. You do need to be careful not to over optimise the title as this can reduce the keyword density, but if they read well they can be added. The reason I have used a hyphen instead of a comma, as commas are keyword separators and so would reduce the advantage of having keywords like dog walkers at the beginning of the title.

The layout I have decided to adopt (which helps me) is:

• The Question or First Statement
• Second Statement
• Call to Action

Examples of layout:

The Question or First statement

Looking for a dog walker In London? Or View our range of dog walking activities

Second Statement

We offer dog walking in Green Park or our range of dog training techniques are

Call to Action

Buy doggie goodies online now with free UK delivery or order your dog training course online now!

Example of these in a full meta description tag

(Question) Looking for a dog walker in central London? (Statement) Barkies dog walkers Westminster have 10 years experience, trained dog handlers and walks in Green Park. (Call to action) Call us to arrange a walk now!

Examples of some of my awful re-written meta tags (the names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Example Consumer meta tag

Big Fat Rabbit products

Bad title – Big Fat Rabbit dolls Brighton, books, sketches & other Rabbit products

This is too long and doesn’t take advantage of the key words we need to add.

Good title – Big Fat Rabbit dolls Brighton – handmade books & sketches made to order

This is using the hyphen again to take advantage of the terms Big Fat Rabbit books and Big Fat Rabbit sketches.

Bad description – Large Collection of Big Fat Rabbit dolls available online. Also buy limited edition Fat Rabbit sketches and handmade books, available with free delivery

The use of Also is too passive to keep the interest; free UK delivery is more enticing

Good description – View our range of Big Fat Rabbit books, available from The Giant Bunny. Buy limited edition Fat Rabbit sketches & books online with free delivery.

We have managed to get a introductory View, the company name The Giant Bunny as well as UK delivery.

keywords content – Big Fat Rabbit, Fat Rabbit dolls Brighton, Big Fat Rabbit books, Big Fat Rabbit sketches, Limited edition Fat Rabbit sketches

All the terms are used, some in full others with other words but no keyword separators like commas

Example Business to Business meta Tag

London serviced boxes

Bad title – Managed and serviced boxes to rent. In London boxes are the best

This is making a statement we can’t uphold, so this is removed

Good title – Managed and serviced boxes to rent in London

Ideally it is best to get the main keyword in the title

Bad description – Hire your managed boxes in London, in particular, serviced box space London city. Prime locations in London, serviced boxes, available online now

Generally the description stops and starts, using a lot of keyword separators. This stops the description from flowing.

Good description – Looking for serviced boxes in London? We
offer flexible managed & serviced box space in London City. Buy our London serviced boxes online now

I like the question at the start, looking for? And it has a good call to action.

keywords content – serviced boxes to rent in London, serviced boxes in London, London serviced boxes, serviced box space London, managed boxes in London

In Summary:

A few other things to remember with meta tags are:

• “don’t over stuff with keywords”
• “try to get all the terms into the title and description, but not at the detriment of the readability”
• “try and write for humans as well as the engines”
• “try to get the company name in the description, if you have a short enough company name you may be able to add it to the beginning of a title”
• “don’t be afraid to re-visit your tags after writing them a day later, you might find it easier to edit them once you have had a breather”
• “Have someone look at your metas and give their opinion, it might help”

I hope that this has been helpful, keep battling away with these and feel free to drop me an email for help or just merely to pick holes in my layout examples.

See you next Monday guys for another thrilling instalment!

9 Responses to How to write terrible meta tags

  1. Hi mmmeeja, let me know how you get on with the method, i would be interested to know if it works on any of your client sites in the same way. Oh and thanks for the comment. 🙂

  2. An excellent guide here Claire, thanks for taking the time to include some great examples.
    I sometimes find it hard to follow techno-jargon so this plain English “learn by example” is a breath of fresh air.
    FroggBlog is going in my RSS reader now, keep up the good work and good luck with your fish.

  3. Thanks spostareduro, I find it difficult to be sensible so i’m very glad that this, usually irritating thing about me, helps.

    Thankyou very much for taking the time to comment, it really makes it all worth it and i can’t wait to post another one :).

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