<META> tags bring the visitors you want to your site
July 26, 2006
<META> tags: familiar to some, and a fear-inspiring label to others.
Yet they can earn you top placement in search
engines, and can help guide Google's AdSense - and other
advertising programs - to pick the content best suited to your site,
and thus increase your revenues.
tags are part of the HTML source code underlying every web page. Web
search engines (also known as spiders) crawl the web for content, and
while the best of them have long learned to look for information beyond
these tags alone, for many spiders, this is where they start.
want to read this stuff, but do want to have the appropriate meta tags
generated automatically? You'll miss the captivating, instructive tail
of Fluffy Poodle Dog. Still, you may want to try the Ars
Informatica Meta Tag Generator, soon to come to this site.
that any changes you make can take 2-4 weeks to be reflected in how
search engines treat your site.
Ah, the web-savvy among you wince. The title tag is not
a meta tag. I know. But it is
so relevant to this tale, so absolutely important to your page's rank,
to targeted advertising content, that it should be. Search engines look
for the title tag, and heavily weight its content. Look at the other
tags below, and tell me why it warrants exclusion. This is meta-data,
raw and pure. Include it.
tag text (found between the <TITLE> and
</TITLE> bits in your page's source
code) appears as the web page title in your browser's title
bar, at the very top. Hence the name. It's also the name your page is
listed as when when someone adds it to their 'Favorites' or 'Bookmarks.' An example:
<TITLE>Fluffy Poodle Dog's Organic Best Canine Hair and Top Body Care
the uniqueness of the title, and, more, the number of words a
web-searching dog lover might use to find an ideal site: best, top,
on-line, dog, canine, poodle, organic, hair, body, care, products.
Words that would lead straight to Fluffy Poodle Dog, and words that
would generate some pretty targeted advertising content.
<META name="Description" content="Your description">
Description tag just generally describe
your web page. Search engines will often
display the Description META tag data (at least the first chunk of it)
with your title in their results. While spiders will often
grab the entire META text, the search result typically
presents only the first 20 words or so. Use these
well: grab and hold your user in 20 words or less.
The rest of the description tag is simply elaboration (and may help
target advertising content). Limit the whole to 200-250 characters at
<META name="Description" content="Fluffy Poodle Dog rules with iron
paw: offers only the best in organic canine hair and body care products
on-line. Extensive product line at reasonable prices. Tested on humans;
safe for animals">
The first twenty words,
together with data already from the <TITLE>, should
elevate Fluffy Poodle Dog's page to a ranking with the search engines.
And it's just cutesy enough to grab one's attention, when presented in
the search return, without turning the reader off. Unique, a claim to
expertise, and a special product. Not bad at all.
however, that some site searching/indexing software, i.e. Google's,
makes minimal use of the META Description tag and instead will
automatically generate its own description for this page. Most crawlers
use Description data to some degree; for some it
remains important. I suggest you do it right; the effort is
minimal, and the returns are potentially significant.
<META name="Keywords" content="first keyword, second keyword, third keyword">
Your META Keywords are specific search terms a searcher might use to locate your page.
Unfortunately, many crawlers including Google and Yahoo now ignore the
keywords tag - too much abuse in years past, as web coders
sought to draw visitors with catchy keywords that had
nothing to do with actual content. Still, some search
engines still incorporate this data in deriving an overall
page rank. Separate each keyword or keyword phrase with a
<META name="Keywords" content="Fluffy Poodle Dog, organic, best, hair
care, top, body care, canine, on-line store">
not repeat any keyword or phrase more than three times. You
can include up to 1,000 characters, including and commas and spaces,
though do so at your peril. As the keyword increase, so the relative
importance of your page decreases, as only a small percentage of
someone else's search terms meet the page's keywords. The above example
is fine for an introduction page. For pages on individual products, use
only 5-7 keywords, or less, so your site is mostly to
score top rank for exact matches, i.e.
<META name="Keywords" content="Fluffy Poodle Dog, best, top, organic,
detangler, hair care">
META Keywords should exactly match words in the page text itself, or
these keywords are likely to be ignored.
name="Author" content="Author Information">
contact information for your page. While many search engines do not use
this tag, some do. If there's a reasonable chance someone will search
for your site using your author's name, then include it.
Supported data includes name, e-mail address, company name and
web address. However, though commonly done, I would advise
against listing your e-mail address: spambots
will read your e-mail address from your site and add it to
their spam distribution lists. You could certainly include the web
site's contact page, instead.
<META name="Author" content="Fluffy Poodle Dog, FPD Corporation,
Many parents, and some
corporations, use filtering software to block access
to unrated and mature/restricted sites. Don't lose visitors by not
rating your site. If your site
is general-purpose, specify a rating of general. Of
course, if your site warrants the higher rating - please use
it. Not just to protect the public; it is in your business
interest. After all, a Mature rating will draw more folks
looking for that kind of content.
<META name="Rating" content="general">
other ratings are "safe for kids", "14
years" for the 14-and-above crowd, "mature" for what the movie industry
would call restricted, and "restricted" for X-rated material.