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Writing Meta Tags

The Meta tags that you’ll need to create for the search engines and for the search visitor are the Title and Meta Description. This is verified by Google Webmaster Tools summarized here:

Create Descriptive Page Titles

Titles are very important in giving users a quick description of their search result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the number one piece of information used to decide which result to click on.

  • Make sure every page on your site has a title specified in the <title>tag.
  • Page titles should be descriptive and concise
  • Avoid keyword stuffing
  • Avoid repeated or boilerplate titles.
  • Brand your titles
  • Be careful about disallowing search engines from crawling your pages.

Meta Keywords Tag

The Meta Keywords tag has lost its importance over the years,  due to keyword spamming. Webmasters were “stuffing” this tag with the same keyword over and over again in an attempt to outrank their competitors. The search engines (Bing and Google) became wise to this practice, and have  stopped looking at the Keywords tag altogether.

Using your Keywords in your content (without keyword Stuffing) is still an advantage for SEO.

The optimal setup is to include your keywords/phrases in  the content of the page. This gives the page more relevance in the eyes of the search.

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Meta Description Tag

The Meta Description tag is still a very important part of the optimization process but not in assigning a rank value. Not only does your description get spidered by the search engine robots, it’s generally your last opportunity to seize the searchers attention and get them to visit your site. A weak or poorly written Description can cripple your chances of getting the traffic you’re trying to get.

Your Meta Description is the text (summary) that is displayed in the search results, just below your page Title. Because the Title is often not enough to get a visitor to click on your site listing, the Meta Description should compliment the Title and offer sufficient incentive for the visitor to click on your site.

Create good meta descriptions

The description attribute within the <meta> tag is a good way to provide a concise, human-readable summary of each page’s content. Google will sometimes use the meta description of a page in search results, if they think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content. Accurate meta descriptions can help improve your clickthrough;

  1. Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description.
  2. Differentiate the descriptions for different pages.
  3. Include clearly tagged facts in the description.
    1. Example: The information is clearly tagged and separated.
      1. <meta name="Description" content="Author: A.N. Author, 
        Illustrator: P. Picture, Category: Books, Price: $17.99, 
        Length: 784 pages">

Samples of search engine results where the Meta Description is displayed:

Samples of auto-generated descriptions:

Because of the acceptable length of the Meta Description, this is generally the hardest component to write. As with the Title, the Meta Description should include one (1) or more keywords/phrases, but should also be written in such a way that it entices the searcher to click on your listing and visit your website.

In addition, the keyword/phrases should be used as close to the front of the description as possible. Your description should be no more than 250 characters, roughly 20-30 words, which is about the most that any search engine will display. If it’s any longer, it will simply be cropped in the search engine results; you shouldn’t be penalized if it’s longer.

Be sure to use the main keyword/phrase in the Meta Description that you previously used in the Title; everything should be targeted to the keyword phrase you’re optimizing for best results.

Your Meta Description should not be just your keywords, listed one after another; it should be written as an enticing summary of your web page or topic.

The format for your Meta Description should be as follows:

<meta name=”description” content=”your page description here”>

Here’s a full Meta Description using our “mens basketball shoes” as the topic:

<meta name=”description” content=”Buy mens basketball shoes at Blueline Shoes. We feature indoor and outdoor basketball shoes, as well as cross-trainers, running, and all-purpose athletic shoes. Wide shoe selection for men, women, and kids.”>

Meta Description overview

  • As with your Title tags, write unique Meta Descriptions for each page.
  • Use the main keyword/phrase as close to the front as possible.
  • Don’t use more than 20-30 words or over 250 characters.
  • Write the description with the visitor in mind; it’s your last chance to get them to visit your website.

Additional SEO Information (FAQ, Questions, Etc.)