The world of SEO is changing…again. Keywords used to be king. But now, some search engines will “penalize” documents that are overstuffed with keywords. Now more importance is being put on title tags and meta tags.
Meta tags are elements of HTML or XHTML that are used to give information about a web page for search engines and ultimately for people who are searching for a website. These tags are not visible to the common website visitor and are embedded into a web page’s code. Meta tags are important because they are one of the first thing a search engine reads to learn more about the page and they are used to summarize the content of the page.
How to Optimize Meta Tags for SEO Optimization
SEO writers need to make sure title tags and meta descriptions use keywords that are indicative of the web pages for which they are used. Siteground.com suggests that writers should take into consideration length and the order of the characters or words that are included in meta tags. Order is important when writing meta tags, words are read left to right by search engine robots, and words that are read first, are deemed to be more important. In order to help the writer out, there is a special meta tag analyzing tool that can be used to see how effectively the meta tags were optimized. Once a writer determines those results, there are ways the writing can be improved to achieve better optimization.
As with many types of writing, titles are incredibly important in SEO writing. In fact, title tags can easily be compared to chapter titles in a novel. Title tags provide brief, at-a-glance summaries of what is on a website. Further, the title appears on a search engine results page (SERP).
Following are some key guidelines to follow to create effective title tags
- A title tag should range approximately between 10-60 characters (including spaces), if a title tag goes beyond that, the search engine will ignore the extra characters.
- When creating a title tag, it is crucial that the most important aspects (which should be the keywords) are placed early in the title phrase.
- Keywords need to be separated by pipes (||) rather than commas, underscores, dashes or other punctuation marks or symbols.
- Keep phrasing short and eliminate conjunctions such as “and”, “or”, “but” and other words that will make the title tag read more like a sentence.
- Even if the company name is not part of the keywords, make sure it is placed at the end of the title tag.
- Avoid duplicating title tags on separate pages.
- Make sure the title tags are relevant to the content of the page.
- Don’t keyword-stuff title tags. It’s better to write short and simple statements that don’t overuse a keyword but rather read more naturally. This can be accomplished by removing extra words and combining products.
Lots of care should be taken when created title tags because they are major deciding factors for whether or not someone will want to visit a website when it appears as an Internet search result. Searchenginewatch.com offers the following piece of advice about title tags: write title tags for humans but format them for search engines.
Meta description tag
The goal of the meta description tag is to provide information about what a website is about. This goal needs to be achieved in less than 200 characters and by using short clear sentences. The meta description tag is important to SEO optimization because it helps to highlight the uniqueness of a website, particularly in comparison to other websites that come up in an Internet search. Keep the following guidelines in mind as meta description tags are created:
- At least one keyword should be present in the meta description tag.
- Try to avoid duplicating meta descriptions, they will be much more effective if they are original and unique.
- Don’t use quotation marks or any other non-alphanumeric symbols in meta descriptions to avoid the description being shortened by Google.
Meta robots tag
There are four types of these tags.
- The “Index, Follow” tag begins crawling a website at the main page and then moves on to the remaining pages.
- The “Index, NoFollow” tag also begins at the main page but does not move on to the remaining pages.
- The “NoIndex Follow” tag does not crawl the main page but will crawl the remaining pages
- The NoIndex, NoFollow” tag indicates that no pages on a website will be crawled by the robot and a website will not be indexed by a search engine.
In order to assure that all robots will crawl a website, the “Index. Follow” robot tag should be included.
Meta keyword tag
This is the least important tag for search engine searches. Many websites have stopped using meta keyword tags. However, do not confuse this with the importance of keywords in the actual page content. Relevant use of keywords in your content is as important as ever since search engines use keywords to help index and categorize web pages and the content therein. Also content is one of the most critical factors in driving traffic to your site so keywords, when used appropriately, can greatly enhance your content’s ability to rank well for a given subject.