This is the final part in this series on SEO tools. Today, we’re going to discuss meta tags. Before we do, let’s define them for those who may not know.
Meta tags are coded tags inserted into a web page to help search engines correctly categorize a given site. This information is placed in the heading area of web pages. It is not visible to web surfers (unless they click on “view source” (Internet explorer)) to see this information.
The Purpose of Meta Tags
As alluded to above, meta tags are used by search engines to index your site. Think of it as an online filing and cataloging system. When search engine spiders crawl the internet, they file sites according to the type of content they find on them. So for example, if you have a website about jewelry, your meta tags will reflect that.
What Most SEO Experts Think about Meta Tags
I purposely left this portion for last because many think that meta tags are useless nowadays. I disagree, if only because they provide valuable information to search engine spiders.
Most search marketing experts think that this SEO tool is obsolete because they can be easily manipulated, eg, keyword stuffing. This is true and in fact, many search engines don’t rely on the information they find in the keyword and/or description tag.
Why I Still Believe That Every Site Should Have Its Meta Tags Written
Only you can decide if writing meta tags is right for you and/or your clients. Before you make the final decision, consider the following:
(i) Google uses meta tag elements for displaying site links. The title tags are used to create the link in search results. That’s why many think this is the most important meta tag.
(ii) Some internet marketing experts still think that the keywords meta tag has some effect on page ranking — if the same keywords can be found on the actual page in addition to being found in the meta tag.
(iii) SEO is very competitive, so even if having your meta tags written brings in an extra 2, 5 or 10% more visitors per month, isn’t it worth it — especially as it is such a simple, one-time thing to do?
Although there are quite a few meta tags, there are only three that I think should be on every site, ie, the title, keyword and description tags.
Update 4/14/2010: Gain more insight about why meta tags are important as discussed on SearchEngineLand.com, an industry-leading site on SEO.
The Title Tag
As a side note, the Title tag is really not a meta tag. But, it has been lumped into this category for so long that no one bothers to argue this minute point any more.
The title tag is arguably the most important meta tag, for it tells search engine spiders what a specific page on a website is all about. It contains the info that is displayed in your web browser’s window at the very top of the page (that white writing that appears across the top).
To see what I mean, go to http://NewMediaWords.biz. Look at your computer screen — the very top starting at the left. It says: SEO Content Writing, Experienced SEO copywriters, SEO Writing, SEO Blog Posts, SEO Press Releas . . . doesn’t it? This is the same information in the title tag. Click “Page” and “View Source” to see the HTML coding for the site to view this tag.
Title Tag Tip: Your title tag should contain some of your high-traffic keyword phrases and should explain exactly what the surfer can expect to find on that particular page (as opposed to your entire site).
The Description Tag
The description tag is what surfers read when your site pops up in organic search results. It helps them decide whether or not to even click on your site, so you definitely want this tag to be present – and accurate. Following is an example from an article of mine that appears on a blog I contributed to:
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The writing under the blue link is the description. It gives the potential reader an idea of what the content described in the link is all about.
The Keyword Tag
The keyword tag is a thorough list of words and phrases that best describe your site. They should be directly relevant to the specific page at hand. They can also contain keywords that are relevant to your site as a whole.
Meta Tags: Conclusion
While some don’t put a lot of stock in meta tags, they should be written for every page on a website – if for no other reason than they give search engine spiders more information about the site. This makes it easier for them to properly categorize it – and for web surfers to find it.
And, this is why many website owners will pay for this service. Learn how to make money writing meta tags for your freelance writing clients. You can literally make $100 or more for a couple of hours of work.