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Using Meta Tags in Your Business Website

Because meta tags in your business website are not as important in search engine ranking as they used to be, limit how much time you spend on them. If tags for a page relate to its content, they're more likely to yield benefits in search engines.

Repeat no more than the same four keywords (or search terms) in several locations on a page, and optimize a different page for another four keywords. (Effective tags include keywords, but you can’t optimize one page for all keywords that apply to your site.) If you do this correctly, a page from your website will appear in results for most commonly used search terms.

Title meta tags

The title tag, likely the most important tag still in use, appears above the browser toolbar when the site is displayed. Keep the title tag to no more than 6 to ten words, or fewer than 70 characters, including one or two of your terms for that page.

Use a different title tag on every page.

The title tag Guided Imagery Downloads, Find Guided Imagery & Guided Meditation CDs appears above the browser toolbar on the home page as shown in the following illustration.

[Credit: Used by permission, www.guidedimagerydownloads.com]
Credit: Used by permission, www.guidedimagerydownloads.com

Because different search engines may truncate the title tag at different lengths, place your keywords first, followed by the company name — not the other way around. Your company name appears in so many places on your site that it doesn’t matter if it’s trimmed off.

Page description meta tags

The source of the text that appears in search engine results is all or a portion of the page description tag or the first paragraph of text, as shown in the following illustration. Google search results for the term CDs healing music guided imagery yield the Guided Imagery Downloads site on the first page.

[Credit: Used by permission, www.guidedimagerydownloads.com]
Credit: Used by permission, www.guidedimagerydownloads.com

Again, different search engines truncate this tag at different lengths, ranging from 150 to 255 characters, including spaces. A good compromise is 200 characters. Use your four optimized search terms in the description, placing them as close to the beginning as possible while keeping the text readable. Don’t keep repeating the same keywords, which is considered spamming.

Keyword meta tag

Although not as important as it used to be, the keyword tag is a helpful way to organize your optimization work. Again, different search engines truncate this tag at different lengths. Place at the beginning of the tag the four keywords you elect to optimize; put your company name and least important terms at the end. This list describes a few other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Limit the list of search terms to 30; shorter is better. You can spread out other search terms on other pages. Some sources suggest keeping this tag between 200 and 500 characters.

  • Make sure your keywords are relevant to your pages' content. It’s best to include at least some of your search terms in the first paragraph.

  • Keyword phrases are more useful than single words. Earning a page 1 appearance on most single words is next to impossible.

  • Commas are no longer needed to separate search terms but are helpful for you to read what you’ve done. Search engines consider reversing the order of words within a phrase, or scrambling words among terms, to find possible combinations.

  • Articles and prepositions aren’t necessary. Examples of articles are a, an, and the; examples of prepositions are by, from, on, and to.

  • Use all-lowercase words to encompass all forms of capitalization. If you capitalize a word in the keyword tag, capitalization is required for a match.

  • Plurals include singulars, as long as they're formed from the same root without changing spelling. For example, a search for the term plants includes the term plant, but a search for the term companies doesn’t include the term company. The same principle holds true for gerunds and past tense.

  • Phrases with spaces include the same term without spaces. For example, a search for the term coffee shop includes the term coffeeshop, but not vice versa.

  • If a multiword phrase must be kept intact for identification, insert quote marks around it. Examples are “days of our lives” and “santa fe.

  • When results are established, sites with keyword phrases that exactly match the entered search request (the query string) generally precede those where other text separates the words within the search request. You can see this for yourself by entering a multiword search phrase and reviewing the results.

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