Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tags that do matter

Tags that do matter


The TITLE tag is an important one for search engines like Google, as that is often the

first one indexed and it is given higher weighting in the relevance rankings. You have to

pay attention to this tag. Keep it short (lower than 40 characters) and let the tag have

material relevant to the keywords used during search. As an example, if you had stuffed

your Company Name as the TITLE tag, it would not help. The visitor that you want to

attract is unlikely to be looking for your Company name in the search string. Think

creatively as to what keywords people would use if they were looking for goods or

services that your site offers.

Keywords and Description

Two Meta tags that are important are KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION. You have to be

very careful about how these are developed and positioned. Frequency and location of the

keyword that is being searched are important criteria that determine relevance and hence

page ranking. The search engine would generally consider the page more relevant if the

keyword that is being sought is in the TITLE tag or is in the KEYWORDS tag near the

top of the page. Similarly if the sought after keyword is found being repeated in the page,

it may give the impression that this is a more relevant page and improve ranking.

There is a caveat, though. The above is only a general rule that has been often followed

by many search engines, but then there are many variants to it. Several players in the

SEO industry have tried to proclaim that this is the gospel truth and hence it has spawned

a large number of experts that suggest and resort to keyword stuffing and spamming

(repeating long strings of keywords). The result can often be just the opposite. Some

search engines penalize pages that have keyword spamming. Some will just ignore these

pages. Some engines also do not read Meta tags. The intelligent method today is to stay

away from spamming and to use tags judiciously. Blend your technique to attain the right

frequency and location, but stay away from any excess or spamming.

You can provide an in-depth list of words and phrases in the KEYWORD Meta tag.

These words should have some relevance to the specific page or, at least, to your website.

While you can vary the case of the keywords, you’ll want to concentrate on the lower

case because over 90% of the searches either use lower case or are conducted on search

engines that are not case sensitive.

These keywords should contain variations on the same theme. If your site was about

gardening, you could use garden, gardening, home and garden, home gardening,

vegetable garden, and herb garden. These are all words that might be used in searches for

information that your site might provide. The keywords Meta tag is not intended to

replace the actual text on your website. This tag is simply to aid the spider in collecting

accurate information about your web pages.

The DESCRIPTION tag is used by search engines like Inktomi for the page summary

that is displayed on the results page. This summary is what the visitor will read and

decide whether he/she wishes to enter your site. If the description is just full of repeated

keywords, it won’t do you any good, even if your page is ranked high. You still do not

have a visitor. May be you have put off a visitor.

Meta Robots Tag

This is probably the only other prominent Meta tag. This is a very peculiar tag in the

sense that it indicates what web pages should not be indexed by Search Engines. The

Robots tag is inserted in between the header tags. An example of the Robots Tag is given


This page should be kept out of Search Engine listings

By default, a crawler will try to index all your web pages and will try to follow links from

one page to another. This can be prevented by using the Robots Tag. Most major search

engines support the Meta robots tag. The Meta robots tag also has some extensions

offered by particular search engines to prevent indexing of multimedia content.

There are other Meta tags apart from the ones explored above but most of them are

simply ignored by almost all search engines.

To sum up, some search engines will give you a boost if you have Meta tags. But don't

expect that to necessarily be enough to put you in the top ten. Meta tags are mainly a

design element you can tap into, a crutch for helping information-poor pages better be

acknowledged by the search engines.