When we discuss search engine optimization (SEO) with customers one of the most common comments I hear is “it’s all about the meta tags and stuff, right?” I try not to visually show disgust and close my eyes as they roll to the back of my head knowing that the freelancer they used on a project in the past filled them with this awesome SEO tip. I simply take a deep breath and note that while title tags, keyword and meta tags do help SEO, they are not the be-all-to-end-all.

Title Tag, Meta Description and Meta Keywords

All of our clients are curious as to why some web pages are ranked higher than others.  Most of the same people have found out about hundreds of ways to improve rankings and tried all of them but had poor results.

I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: there is no miracle diet pill for a website. Got it- you cannot lose 50lbs in one month with a diet pill. You cannot buy #1 rankings in Google for $99 from some company with only a gmail address. Take that $99 and place it on the Pass Line at MGM- you got better odds.

However like weight loss and becoming healthy there are several ways to get your pages ranked higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs).  Proper keyword research and selection for your website and applying well written title tags, meta description tags and meta keyword tags for each page can help inch your way to a ranking goal. Just like walking 2 miles a day will help achieve your weight loss target.

Remember, these guidelines are used for SEO and deal with keywords and description meta tags.

– Your title tag should include keywords relevant to that specific page. Use up to 60 characters, not words when writing your page title tag. Don’t repeat any keywords, they search engines will think it is spam. Don’t leave the “Home, About Us, or Services” keywords in the title tag. Get creative and add proper, relevant keywords to the title. And please don’t just throw your company name at the start of the title tag. Below is an example of a proper title tag in red. (note the keywords that were searched in Google is in bold as output and displayed in their search result)

Proper Meta Title Tags

– The amount of keywords you use will depend on the type of page they will be on.  The sales page will have around 2000 words and can include product benefits, solutions for the customers, testimonials, or stories.  Keep the page simple.  Your product page should be 500-750 words.  Keep in mind that people know what they want when they get to your page, so you have to convince them your product is the best one for them.  The article page needs to be at least 1000 words and at the most 5000 words.  Many people have opinions on how long it should be.  Do what works for you and be straightforward.

– The first meta keyword should, but does not necessarily have to match the file name of your page.  Search engines will then match that keyword with your page and determine if it is highly relevant.

– I recommend two to five keywords in the meta keywords tag.  If you have more than five the search engines will think your page is spam and it won’t be indexed.  The keywords are ranked in the order they appear so you need to put the most important one in the first spot.  The keywords should be lined up so the most relevant word is first and the least relevant last.

– Put  some relevant (for this page) keywords in the meta description; the main keyword should be in the beginning.  Search engines don’t read the whole description, but they can find them and match them up with your keyword list.  Don’t repeat keywords over and over and don’t place 30 of them in there.

– The meta description should be 100 to 160 characters, not words.  You want to have a good description of your page in this space, if your description is below 100 characters the search engines may not believe it is relevant enough to list.  Write the description for humans, with search engine spiders being taken in to consideration. Below in red is an example of a good Meta Description tag and shows you how Google takes these in to factor and displays them to end users.

Meta Description Tag Example

– Line up the meta keywords so they look like a sentence.  It will help to show what your page is about.

– Always spell check and do grammar checks more than once.  Proofread for typos, misspellings, and formatting issues.  When you think everything is perfect, proofread it again or have someone look at it for a fresh pair of eyes.  Keywords should be thinly placed in the content of your website body copy so they are search engine friendly.

– Some SEO’s think there should be one keyword per 100 words.  When you proofread, you may find new keywords to use that could be better than a couple of the ones you have. Remember that the most important part of content optimization is that it reads professionally and correct to humans. If it reads like it was optimized you may rank great but potential customers will see that there is something funny going on.

– The meta description should be placed on one line in the html code.  If you do this you can be sure that the search engines will read all of it.

– Don’t use more than three words for the main keyword or file name.  Very few people will search for keyword phrases longer than three words.  If the keyword phrase has too many words in it, the search engines won’t find your page relevant enough to list it.

– Generally, the main keyword(s) should be placed in the first paragraph and the last paragraph of your page.  Search engines see pages that do this as very relevant.  Put your main keyword in the first 90 characters of your paragraph.

– Try using the main keyword as a link on your page, but only do it one time. This will become anchor text that will equal the URL of the page it is pointing to. This helps to pass the value of the “words” in relevany to the landing URL page.

2 Responses to SEO: Not just Keyword & Meta Description Tags

  1. E-Commerce Optimization, make your online store better and keep your customers engaged | Trademark Productions Web Design & SEO Blog

  2. “Your title tag should include keywords relevant to that specific page. Use up to 60 characters, not words when writing your page title tag. Don’t repeat any keywords, they search engines will think it is spam”

    Have you read Google’s SEO starter guide? In the title examples they give, words are repeated 2-3 times.

    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/11/googles-seo-starter-guide.html

    Macguy | March 16, 2009at 6:14 pm

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