What are Meta Tags?
When you start building your actual site, one important on-site technique you can implement is the inclusion of meta tags in your web pages. Meta tags are special snippets of code that are included before the body content of your site that contain information about your site’s name and purpose. Other than the title tags, these tags aren’t visible to visitors on your site, but they provide valuable information to the search engine robots that determine which search terms to display your site for.
The most popular tags for SEO purposes are title, keyword and description tags, all of which provide more information to the search engines about your site’s content and what search terms its most relevant to.
The first tag you should include is a title tag, structured like this:
While this isn’t exactly a meta tag, it’s usually categorized as one because it occurs in the “HEAD” area of your webpage (before the body region). However you’d like to categorize it, this tag helps the search engines scouring your site to figure out what the page is called and what should be displayed in the search results. For search engine optimization purposes, it’s important to include your page’s main target keyword or keyphrase in the title so that search engines will know to display your site when a user searches for that specific term.
Keyword Meta Tags
Keyword meta tags are also important, as they let the search engines know which searches the site is relevant to. A keyword tag is set up like the following example:
A good keyword tag includes between 3-10 keywords that are relevant to your page. Stuffing this tag full of 50 keywords won’t help you rank for more keywords – if the search engines can’t determine that the keyword is relevant to your content, they may penalize you with lower amounts of traffic. Be sure that any keywords you choose to include in this tag are actually used on the page.
Description Meta Tags
Many sites also make use of description meta tags – although many SEO experts disagree about whether they actually contribute to your site’s SEO. At the very least, description tags let you control the paragraph of text that will be displayed below your site’s name in some of the search results. Description meta tags are structured like this:
This meta tag controls what will be displayed in the search engine results when your site comes up in the rankings. Natural search results usually display the page’s title and description.
So even if meta description tags don’t contribute to improving your site’s rankings, writing a good description may help convince search engine visitors to click through to your site. You can even use this description as an opportunity to pre-sell potential visitors on any products you’re selling with persuasive, targeted language.
While not exactly classified as meta tags, in addition to these techniques, including your major keywords and keyphrases in headline titles is a great way to boost your search engine rankings. Using heading tags on your pages is simple – instead of just including your text and adjusting the size to make it larger, wrap it in a heading tag structured like this:
Your Title Here
There are six different heading sizes – h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6. The top heading of your page should be wrapped in h1 tags and should include your page’s main keyword or keyphrase.
Another good on-site SEO technique is to frequently update your site with fresh, new content. The search engines love sites that are regularly updated. When you add new content be sure to let the search engines know that you’ve updated with your site with XML-compliant sitemaps.