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SEO Optimization using HTML Meta Tags

Keywords and Description Header This SEO Article on “HTML Meta Information” will demonstrate SEO optimization using Meta Tags. Meta tags are valuable tools used to attract customers to business websites. Meta Tags assist the implementation of search engine optimization (SEO) and are inserted at the beginning of an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document.

The title tag is located at the beginning of an HTML document to encourage higher website visitor rankings. Search engines use keywords to identify the information on a website page. Description explains the content of a page. Author displays the author of the content information on the page and might include an email address. The robots tag offers users a final chance to keep unwanted content away from search engine indexes and services. Copyright displays the copyright date of the page, charset shows the page character set, and expires gives the date of content expiration. Refresh uses time limits to reload either the current page or a new page.1)

Why Description Tags are Still Important

In most cases, the text within the description tag is just ignored by search engines. Instead of relying on the description, the search engine is creating a short except from your page for displaying in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Sometimes however, the search engine is unable to create such a short description. This is the case when your page does not provide sufficient content for analysis. Flash based web sites are a common example. Also Java applets are problematic. In this case, providing a meta description is one of the ways to provide a description to the page. The best way to handle objects and images on a page however, is to add alternative text.

One reason that the keyword tag is overvalued is that early SEOs used too many popular search terms not relevant to the current page. The objective with this method, also known as “keyword stuffing”, was to drive up the value of rankings and page views. Search engines consider this to be spamming. One way to avoid this is to limit the use of different spellings or tenses of the same three words. In addition, it is advisable to avoid packing keyword tags with irrelevant keywords that do not add value to a website’s content.2)

Search engines use the SERPs to display the meta description tag just below the clickable title to achieve branding and message control. It’s important to fit the description range within the character limitation of the search engine results display. For example, Google displays 145-155 characters with spaces and approximately 130 characters without spaces. The meta description tag information should be coded within the body of the HTML tag. Use keywords in the meta description to emphasize the page content. Vary the use of original and unique content from one page to the next within the body of the meta description tag.3)

Successful Descriptions

A good description will encourage many website visitors when search engine visibility is increased as the amount of page text increases. The greater number of listed search queries increases the number of visitors to the website. Search engines favor web sites that contain more information content. The ideal page size is 500-3000 words. Keywords should be used at least three to four times near the beginning of a web page. A search engine may ignore the page if fewer keywords are used. If too many keywords are used the search engine will trigger the spam filter.

Not every page of the website requires the use of a meta description to ensure that the searcher will receive relevant information. If a meta description tag is not used this will enable the search engines to display a small amount of content. If too much information is returned via a long tail search then the meta description may not provide the correct information. Unique descriptions or no descriptions per page will be of greater value to the searcher allowing for more click-throughs to the website.

1) Enge, Eric, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola, and Rand Fishkin. The Art of SEO. Oreilly & Associates Inc, 2009. Print.
2) Brent Yorzinski: “The Importance of Keywords Meta Tag in SEO,” available at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/the-importance-of-keywords-meta-tag-in-seo/6014/
3) K2SE: “How to use description meta tag effectively,” available at http://www.k2seo.com/index.php/2010/seo-tips-how-to-use-description-meta-tag/
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onpage_seo/meta_information.txt · Last modified: 2012/05/05 15:45 (external edit)