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Are Meta Tags Dead?

(Using meta tags to improve search engine rankings)

Do You Want More Traffic? Everyone who has ever built or marketed a website should know what Meta tags are, yet I am constantly amazed by the number of sites we are called upon to analyze that either have no Meta Tags at all or they consist of just a couple of words...

With the wealth of information that is available on this subject I am shocked webmasters don't take the time to develop better Meta tags, if you could boost both your rankings and amount of traffic from search engines wouldn't you do it?

There seems to be a conflict concerning Meta Tags that I want to address before going on to show how you can benefit from quality Meta tags. There is an on-line rumor that meta tags are dead, that search engines ignore them because too many people are spamming the engines by filling their meta tags with words that don't have anything to do with their site to bring in traffic. The truth is meta tags work better than ever, just the search engines have gotten smarter! They compare the appearance of words in your title, keywords, description with the actual content of the page. Imagine they actually look for relevant content now!

The first part of this article is just to introduce meta tags to those that may not be familiar with the concept, the second half talks about how to make your pages relevant so you can actually benefit from your Meta Tags. They aren't even close to dead as we prove daily with our customers who combine this simple information with a couple of tools to routinely create pages that score in the top 20 on major search engines. Most people are simply targeting the wrong keywords or aren't using them effectively! Also with the long amount of time it takes for Search engines to get around to indexing your site many people give up before seeing the results...

Meta Tags are the first step to integrating marketing with web development. Meta tags are vital to search engine ranking success. Not all search engines treat Meta tags the same way, some will give them more weight than the content of your pages while others barely look at them. Most of your traffic (free traffic by the way) will come from search engines so take a little time to optimize your pages. Building the most beautiful site in the world won't make a difference if the search engines don't recognize it!

For the sake of this article we will look at the three most important meta tags used to score big on the search engines. Focus first on the "title", "keywords" and "description". These tags should be the first thing that appear after the <head> in your HTML code. If you have used software to create your site you may have to go in and edit the order of the tags manually.

The beginning of your HTML code should look like this, replace the bolded text with your own:

<html>
<head>
<meta name="title" content="title of the page goes here.">
<meta name="description" content="description of the page goes here.">
<meta name="keywords" content="enter,your,key,words,here">

Most search engines will use these meta tags in different combinations. Make sure your title isn't just the name of your company but that it also includes keywords. Some search engines will use your title as the link for your site. How often would you click on a search engine link that says "no title"? Also most search engines will search the title tag as well for keywords so just adding this tag will move you up in the search engines (provided the keywords are relevant and appear in your page as always!). You also need to think about the directories and other places on the Internet that list sites in alphabetical order. Did you know symbols appear before letters alphabetically? #1 Internet Marketing Site will score before An Internet Marketing Resource Center alphabetically. There are a lot of factors you need to consider, be patient!

The description tag is an opportunity to repeat keywords and add key phrases. Try to create something that makes sense for human readers as again some search engines will use that to describe your site but make sure your keywords are well represented. It is a fine balance that depends or your specific niche. Don't repeat the company name unless it has keywords in it! You are looking for words people will actually use to find your site.

Another common mistake is sites use the same tags for all their pages, this is a huge mistake we see repeated often. No-one page will score at the top of every search engine. Allow the diversity of each page of your site to allow you to blanket all the search engines. Each part of your website will likely have unique keywords, apply them to your meta tags to maximize your sites effectiveness. Yes it takes time, this is an opportunity to get free traffic. We have used our own tools to market our site and we regularly see traffic coming in from search engines for keywords we haven't even targeted! It will happen for you if you take the time to do it properly!

Choosing the actual keywords you will use is more complicated, start with what you have on your page for now, if you are serious sign up for access to our Marketing Insiders Toolbox to be able to generate high traffic keywords and get access to many other time saving marketing tools. 

How to benefit most from your meta tags?

  1. Align your meta tags as above for a start

  2. Use our keyword tools to see what keywords you want to target in relation to your site.

  3. Add these keywords to your pages if they aren't already there

  4. Search on the keywords and check out some of your competitors meta tags placement and how they affect the search engines (for general ideas only!)

  5. Use the content of your pages to create new effective Meta Tags as below

  6. Submit manually to all the major search engines. If you sign up for access to the Marketing Insiders Vault we have been talking about you'll get access to a single page with links to all the major search engines submission pages. You can add your URL quickly and much more effectively than using automatic submission software (which we do have as well)

  7. Watch for the increased traffic to your site!

When you sign up for the Marketing Insiders Vault you will find access to step by step instructions on how to accomplish all this. It really is that simple, if you do it right. It does take some time, that's all! If you choose not to use these tools there are still things you can do, they just won't be as effective: 

Explore the search engines and see similar sites that score high for your keywords. Take a look at their meta tags, this will give you an idea of what works. Remember copying one site is illegal and guarantees nothing! First of all you don't know that the page you are viewing is what was actually indexed by the search engine, (they may have made changes since the search engine last visited) so you may be pirating a site for no reason. Look at the top 5 similar sites, you are just trying to get a feeling for what works. You then need to look at your individual pages, your keywords should be based on the content in your pages. The best trick is to take a copy of the page, eliminate all the small words that don't get indexed (a, and, the, of, etc...) then eliminate any words that appear more than once, change the case on some words and you have content relevant keywords you can copy and paste into your meta tags!

Other Notes:

Watch the first dozen or so opening words on your page, some search engines will use that as a description. Also, some search engines are case sensitive and some search for complete phrases. If you have a site on Internet Marketing such as this one use "internet marketing, internet, marketing" for that one keyword, and repeat for the other most important ones. Don't go overboard as excessive repetitive will have a counter effect. Make sure your keywords appear liberally throughout your text (the first 250 words are the most important) and that they agree with the title, description and keyword tags.

Some search engines add bonuses for text appearing in the body between <h1> </h1> tags. There are many minor tips and techniques to learn. If you have images on your site it is always a good idea to have an "alt text" on them, a text description that will appear in case the image doesn't load or while the image is loading. 

Example in the actual HTML code:

<IMG SRC="logo.gif" ALT="keywords logo">

Take advantage of this to add keyword weight to your page. Some of the search engines will read the tag and include it in their algorithmic pattern. That isn't just your "logo", that is your "keyword here logo". There are many little tricks like this we offer in our Marketing Insiders Vault. This should be enough to get you started, as always I look forward to your comments or questions. If anything isn't clear please let me know. Just e-mail mike@surf22.com

Happy Marketing!

Mike Beriault
Editor, Surf22

Questions?
Send me an email: mike@surf22.com


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