Meta tags…the debate rages on – are they essential to SEO or just another dated ‘on the page’ factor we can now ignore?
We say, ‘ignore Meta tags at your peril’.
The adding of Meta tags is one of the most well-known page optimisation techniques. In the past these Meta Tags played a more significant role in achieving rankings. This was until they were abused by ‘spammers’ stuffing irrelevant, but hugely popular, search terms into their tags (think ‘naked britney spears’…in her better days of course!). For a while, stuffing a term like this into your keyword tag could have you ranking for a term completely irrelevant to the actual content of the page.
Meta tags are no longer so instrumental to rankings (and therefore not open to so much blatant abuse) but do continue to provide useful guidance to the search engines as to the content of your site pages. This relates to the Title tag in particular, which is one of the first ports of call for a search engine in understanding a pages content (you can see the Title tag at the top of your browser in the blue bar). Therefore, write a short summary of the page, ideally containing a relevant search term. For example, on our homepage, the Title tag is ‘search marketing solutions’.
The Description tag is not quite so important purely from a rankings perspective but does often accompany your listing on the search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, write your Description tag to be relevant to the page and importantly enticing; remember you are competing on the page with at least 9 other ‘natural’ results and plenty of paid ads too – therefore you need to try and encourage the searcher to click on your website listing over and above others that are on the page, for example…
“Experts in improving your Internet presence through a range of best practice search marketing solutions. Find out more.”
Finally, the keyword tag. Don’t worry too much about this one. Traditionally, it is where you would list the keywords the specific page has been optimised for. However, these days it is widely acknowledged that most search engines now ignore this tag. In fact, Rand Fishkin over at SEOmoz made a good point in a recent interview that populating the keyword tag does nothing more than give away marketing intelligence.
Until next week…