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Little Changes, Huge Results: How to Use MetaTags

Search Engine Tips




If you have already chosen the right keywords for your web page, let's put them to use with the most important factor that will determine your site's ranking:


The title of your page is the most important factor in getting good search engine ranking. Before going any further, I need to clarify which title on your page I'm referring to.

The first headline or heading on your page is NOT the title of which I'm speaking of. The <title> tag in your HTML code is the one that search engines spider and index your site under.

If you have MS Internet Explorer or Netscape browser, look at the very top of your screen (in dark blue back ground and white writing) - that's the title of this page.

Better yet, go to your menu bar at the top and click on View, and then Source/Page Source.

By doing this, you can now see the HTML source code for that/any Web page on the Net. Now, looking at the source code, you will see the following for any given Web page (assuming they are utilizing all correct tags):



<title>This Is The Title Of The Page</title>
<meta name="description" content="Place your description here.">
<meta name="keywords" content="Place your keywords here.">


Okay, now that you know what and where the title is, let's cover the basics of a winning title.

Remember all the keywords you wrote out earlier? Well, now is the time to put those words to use. Pick out 2-4 of your most powerful keywords that describe your page and make a title out of them.

For example, if we where to create a title for our automotive site, it would go something like: "Cars, Trucks, Vans and SUV's for Sale". As you can see, we've packed it with some of our more descriptive (and targeted) keywords.

The title not only contains keywords, but it should also describe your page. One thing you don't want to do is describe your company or yourself in your title. You have to remember that the title is just like a headline in a sales letter - it must grab the attention of the reader.

When scanning dozens of titles at a time, nobody is going to care about you or your company. They only want to know what's in it for them and how your Web site can benefit them. Once you get your prospect in your site, then you can talk about yourself and your company to your heart's content.

Assuming that you have more than just one Web page to your site, you can also take advantage of your sub-pages and create titles that target different keywords. This tactic is best utilized by creating doorway pages to increase your ranking.

With the exception of Yahoo!, LinkStar and The World Wide Web Yellow Pages, you can submit more than one URL or doorway page. A doorway page is simply a page that has been created for the sole purpose of ranking higher in the search engines for a particular keyword or set of keywords. 

These pages act as "doorways" to the real content of your site, without having to redesign or remove content from your home page.

In the same way that you can design Doorway pages to take advantage of a search engine's ranking criteria, you can also create Doorway pages to take advantage of the engine's criteria for a specific keyword or keyword combination.

For example, one page can be dedicated to the "Toyota Camry", another page title can be "Toyota 4Runner" and so on.

So, if someone is interested in buying a Toyota Camry, chances are that your page will come up at the top of a particular search engine because it's the most relevant - it matches "query" 100% (assuming that the person typed in "Toyota Camry").

Granted, there isn't anything that grabs the reader's attention with a title like, "Toyota Camry". If that's the car they are interested in, they'll stop and look, but to get them in the door, you've got to have a very compelling...

The description of your site is what gets the person interested in clicking and entering your Web page. It, just like good headlines and sub-headlines in a sales letter, should:

1. be interesting
2. make the reader curious to learn more
3. give solutions to common problems
4. be compelling

So, a good title and description for our automotive site could be:

Cars, Trucks, Vans and SUV's for Sale - Discover how to buy any new car below whole sale blue book prices!

You have your major keywords in the title and a very compelling and interesting description. So, where does your description go? Some search engines (usually the directories), simply ask you to type in your description when you register. But the search engines that spider your site, will take a look at your...

Before I get started with this section, I'd like to put a "myth" to rest regarding META Tags: They are NOT magical! They will NOT make your site number 1! They are NOT the answer to all your search engine problems!

META tags are helpful. They "help" in describing your site to some of the search engines. They help in giving your site a slight boost in ranking by being able to specify your keywords. But by no means are they some top secret answer or magical solution to a poor Web listing.

In any event, you should use META tags on all your pages. There are many forms of META tags... Other META names include, "generator", "rating", "refresh", "resource type", "documentation", "copyright" and some other rarely used tags. But, as far as search engine placement is concerned, all you have to worry about are the META description and keyword tags.

META tags (specifically META description) are HTML codes you interject into your site which tells the spider how and what the description of your site should be. If you don't have META tags, the robots will simply choose the first couple hundred words on your page and create its own description.

For example, if our car site had a title of "Cars World" and we didn't use any META tags, and the first thing on the Web page was your address. Then the search engine would index this site as:

Car World - 21546 Any Street, Anytown, CA 95633. Office hours are 9-5 or call...

Not too appealing to the consumer, is it? They have no reason to click on your "description" because it sucks! Let's fix it...

We'll keep the title the same and for a description, let's write something catchy... We want people come in, not leave our site. How about, "Everything you've ever wanted to know about cars, trucks, vans and automobiles."

META Description Tags

Now we'll use the META description tags to communicate this information to the search engines without having to change the look of your site.

<TITLE>Car World</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="Everything you've ever wanted to know about cars, trucks, vans and automobiles.">

Now your listing will look something like this in search engines that support the META descriptions tag:

Car World - Everything you've ever wanted to know about cars, trucks, vans and automobiles.

Notice how the description matches what's in the META description tag? That's exactly what the META description tag does. It lets you control the description that appears.

A META description does not require keywords (but it helps, so throw in a couple if you can)! Your main goal with the description is to make it appealing to a human. This text is what's going to convince them to click your listing, so think carefully about it. Also, make sure you have a different META description for each page on your site.

One thing you'll want to do is restrict your META description to 150 characters (including spaces). This is the optimum length to have the whole description displayed on just about all the search engines, without it being cut short.

So, don't get carried away with a super long description. Just long enough to create some curiosity, throw in a couple keywords and get that prospect to enter your site.

Speaking of keywords, what are the META keyword tags? Basically, they give your Web page a chance to show up if someone types in any of the words listed in the META keyword tag.

For example, if someone types in "nissan", then your page may come up because that word will match one of the keywords in the tag. Without that tag, there would be no chance at all because "nissan" doesn't appear on your Web page or in the description/title tags.

What you should do is pick between 6-10 keywords and/or phrases that are pertinent to your Web site and stick them in. Here's a sample:

<TITLE>Car World</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="Everything you've ever wanted to know about cars, trucks, vans and automobiles.">
<META name="keywords" content="cars, trucks, vans, automobiles, suvs, honda, nissan, gm">

Some people think that by repeating these keywords dozens of times, their ranking will increase because it'll "fool the spider" into thinking the page is very relevant ('it's got all these keywords... it has to be the perfect match'). Yes, this worked a couple years ago, but not anymore.

In fact, repeat your META keywords more than three times and chances are your site will not even be indexed. Worse yet, you could be banned from that particular search engine for "keyword spamming".

Don't try it! Also, don't list your repeated keywords next to each other, it's easier to see that you're spamming. For example, if you had 5 keywords, do it like this:

cars, trucks, vans, automobiles, suvs,
cars, trucks, vans, automobiles, suvs,
cars, trucks, vans, automobiles, suvs,

Not, like this:

cars, cars, cars, trucks, trucks, trucks, vans, vans, vans, automobiles, automobiles, automobiles, suvs, suvs, suvs,

For me, I just write my keywords once, without any repetition. Also, when writing your keywords it's best to separate them and your keyword phrases with commas.

One thing I'd like to make clear is that META Tags just aren't that important when it comes to getting the best ranking with the search engines. Don't get me wrong, make sure you have them, just don't spend all your time on them in the hopes of being number one.

You should spend the majority of your time creating titles - that's the one that really determines your ranking.


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