Now I know in my previous blog I mentioned I would talk about the various techniques etc, but to be honest that's a big big area so I'm going to spread this out, this blog will contain detailed information about meta tags and a further post on Monday 27th October will deal with various other factors. [also note im drip feeding this information from this point so that you have time to implement various suggestions and not be overwhelmed]. SEO Tips Series - Read them here
Meta Tags are those things at the top of a websites code. Literally they contain information about information, but its best to look at these as "attention grabbing friends". You have to take care of your meta data as much as your content, if you mess them up you can mess up your ranking from Search Engines (SE's). The measureable importance of Meta Tags is a matter of great contention, some say it now means nothing, others like myself know it does have importance even if the edge has gone a little. Either way managing Meta Data is of key importance to any website and should not be over looked. Also its easy to forget managing this Meta Data is very much a full time job, even if you already have a good ranking.
A meta tag can contain anything from information about a websites designer, its SEO provider, but the things SE's recognise (mostly) are the Keywords and the Description (and robots), so this is what I will concentrate on in this blog.
Keywords - one of the most important things on a website. I make no quarms over this, get this wrong and to be blunt, you're dead in the water. They can do as much harm as good, so get it right. [Before you look at keywords you need to remember , firstly shorter keyword phrases are used more often (for example "design" is used more often than "web design" which is more often than "andy kinsey web design"), selecting your keyword phrases is very important, you have to specialise in an area to get seen there but not be so specific you lock out other markets which could be of interest. This may make no sense but it will as we go on.] As a general rule of thumb your keywords/labels/phrases tags should be of no more than 10-15 words, this means you can have this many keywords of around 7-10 phrases/keywords. (Anymore than this and your Keyword stuffing, a very black hat trick likely to be penalised.) Selecting these keywords is important and you have to be careful to specify but not so much you close your market. So... -Do some research into your competitors keywords -Do not use the same word twice if you are to do this use the word once and follow keywords (so andy 1, andy 2 would become andy,1,2, etc) -Use keyword analysis tools such as google keyword centre Then use your research for a month, analyse the results (google webmaster tools will help you with this), give each phrase/word a mark out of ten. then change them, a month later compare results, then again and keep doing this. not only will you tweak til your perfect but google will like that you refresh them, they class as fresh content!
marking them on a scale in accordance to relevance, general rank after a period of time, total number of hits via this keyword/phrase. do this in a spreadsheet, if you can keep this spreadsheet archive and use it well your site will continually improve not only over a few months but it will allow you to see trends of change a long time before your competition will ever do. ....unless they read this blog too, in which case...best of luck to you all.
Another application of keywords for SE's is keyword / content ratio, this means how often keywords appear in your content. You should aim for between 7% and 15% keyword density. Anymore and SE's get cautious and its keyword stuffing again, and less and your not doing your job properly as a website owner and maintainer.
Notes From History: Over the years the importance of Keywords has decreased due to abuse by various "black hatters" whom abused the system, today the fact google and other SE's don't show todays results but rather a month or two behind it is hard to see how important it is at this second, or any other second for that matter. The idea of time lapsing keywords is one you should consider, circulating keywords is of importance.
Description - Although not as important as keywords a description is what brings people to your site (ultimately). This is because unless your submitted via DMOZ (or another directory) / and even if you are in some cases, Search Engines will show this description and your title as the search result. There are certain words that draw people in like "free", "sale" and "discount" but use them incorrectly or too often and people will just not click, links that says "100% free" for example, I will instinctively ignore, most the time this is on the basis of my subconscious saying This IS SPAM! . so word it carefully refresh it often, be specific to your target audience and do not repeat yourself, or make yourself look silly. This is to say if your title says your a web design company, don't repeat this in your description, or do but re-word it call yourself an Internet design agency, this will draw people in to your site, and will more often than not mean they stay longer.
Practical Advice: Your description should not be of more than 140-200char in order to ensure all SE's can show it within their search results pages.
Robots - this is not one of the more important factors of a web page, however the information it contains is often vital. meta robots (not to be confused with link factors) in essence tell a search bot/spider what it can and can not do with your page. For example - "follow" means a SE can follow links on a page as "no follow" means it can not follow them. "Index" and "noindex" do as described, "snippet" means it can take extracts from your site to show as results elsewhere (if an SE wants to, though normally it doesn't). The most common meta bot "all" is assumed by SE's to me "index,follow,snippet" (snippet is not confirmed).
Meta tags are formed as follows: <meta name="NameOfTag" Content="ContentOfMetaTag" /> For example <meta name="robots" content="all" />
Also follow me on twitter: twitter.com/andykinsey