Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How to Create Search Engine Friendly Title and META Tags (Part 2)

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How to Create Search Engine
Friendly Title and META Tags (Part 2)

By Kalena Jordan (c) 2007

In Part 1 of this article, I defined Title Elements and META Tags and took you step-by-step through how to create an optimized Title Element. Now it's time to create your optimized META Description Tag.

Create Your META Description Tag

Take your líst of target keywords and phrases and open another text file. Again, you can use an existing sample META Description Tag as your template. Let's say our existing description is:

<META name="description" content="Miami Florists create beautiful floral bouquets, arrangements, tributes and displays for all occasions, including weddings, Valentines Day, parties and corporate events. Deliveries throughout Florida.">

Does Your Site Stand Out or Stand Still?

You can make your META Description Tag as long as you like, but only a certain portion of it will get indexed and displayed by search engines. According to Danny Sullivan in his (old but still relevant) article How to Use HTML Meta Tags, 200 to 250 characters of the META Description gets indexed but less than that gets displayed, depending on the search engine. So you want to make sure all your important keywords are listed towards the start of the tag.

Now take your líst of keywords for the home page in order of importance. For our fictional florist these were:

- florists Miami
- florists Florida
- wedding bouquets

Now you need to create a readable sentence or two describing your web site and incorporating these keywords so they make the best use of the keyword real estate available.

Because search engines often display the contents of the META Description Tag in the search results, it is very important that your sentences make grammatical sense and are enticing enough to encourage readers to clíck on your link. Let's start with:

If you're seeking a florist in Miami Florida, Funky Florists create unforgettable wedding bouquets, floral arrangements, tributes and displays for all occasions.

Ok, so that's around 150 characters long and gets our three important keyword phrases included. But it's a bit bland. We need to add something to entice the searcher to clíck on it. How about:

Order online for a 10 percent discount!

So now we have the following completed META Description Tag:

<META name="description" content="If you're seeking a florist in Miami Florida, Funky Florists create unforgettable wedding bouquets, floral arrangements, tributes and displays for all occasions. Order online for a 10 percent discount!">


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Our new tag is optimized for our keyword phrases, it's around 200 characters in length, it describes our site accurately, it speaks to the reader and it (hopefully) entices them to clíck on the link and view the site.

Create Your META Keywords Tag

We're almost there. Now it's time to create your optimized META Keywords Tag. Let me stress here that this Tag is quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Not many of the search crawlers even support it any more. You can see which ones do on this page. If you have the time and you really want to create META Keywords tags for your pages, then go ahead, but if not, then leave them out of your code altogether. This tag will have very little impact on your overall SEO campaign.

Assuming you do want to create a Keywords tag, take your líst of target keywords and phrases and open another text file. Again, you can use an existing sample META Keywords Tag as your template. Let's say our existing Keywords Tag is:

<META name="keywords" content="flowers, roses, weddings bouquets, florists, floral arrangements, flower deliveries, Valentines Day gifts, Christmas decorations, Mother's Day, tributes, wreaths, clutches, sprays, in sympathy, funerals, corporate functions, parties, floral displays, Miami, Florida">

You are just including a líst of related keywords to include in this tag. Now take your líst of keywords for the home page in order of importance. For our fictional florist these were:

- florists Miami
- florists Florida
- wedding bouquets

Because you have a lot more room in this tag, a good rule of thumb for creating a META Keywords Tag is to include the keywords and phrases you are targeting with your site content, as well as some terms that you don't necessarily want to use in your site copy but are still relevant to the site content. For example, the site copy, TITLE and META description tags would include the most important search keywords, but the META Keywords Tag could be used for keyword variations and combinations that don't appear in the visible site text, but that people may also search for. Examples include plurals, contractions, slang, variations, misspellings, cultural nuances and industry jargon.

The Google ranking mystery is solved!

For our fictional florist, these may include things like:

- wedding flowers
- roses
- wedding roses
- Valentine's Day roses
- sympathy gifts
- Mother's Day gifts
- funeral wreaths
- flower deliveries
- floral arrangements
- birthday gifts
- flowers
- flowers for wedding
- wedding decorations

So now we have the following draft META Keywords Tag:

<META name="keywords" content="florists Miami, florists Florida, wedding bouquets, wedding flowers, roses, wedding roses, Valentine's Day roses, sympathy gifts, Mother's Day gifts, funeral wreaths, flower deliveries, floral arrangements, birthday gifts, flowers, flowers for wedding, wedding decorations">

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However, when creating your Keywords Tag, you should not repeat any particular keywords within your META Keywords Tag more than five times and I would recommend excluding commas so that all your keywords can be indexed in combination with each other.

So we need to fix the draft tag to remove the excess repetition of the words "flowers" and "weddings". This is easy to do because some of the keyword phrases already incorporate these single generic keywords.

For starters, we can lose the single "flowers" as it is already covered by some of the other phrases like "wedding flowers". Next, we can drop "roses for the same reason. Then we can combine some keyword phrases together to save space, e.g. "flowers for wedding" and "wedding decorations" can be integrated to become "flowers for wedding decorations" so we can lose the extra instance of "wedding".

So now we have the following completed META Keywords Tag:

<META name="keywords" content="florists Miami florists Florida wedding bouquets wedding flowers wedding roses Valentine's Day roses sympathy gifts Mother's Day gifts funeral wreaths flower deliveries floral arrangements birthday gifts flowers for wedding decorations">

Tailored TITLE and META Tags

While some webmasters remember to include a META Description and a META Keywords Tag in their home page HTML code, many forget to include them on every page of the site that they want indexed. Or worse, they duplicate the homepage TITLE and META Tags on all other pages. To give a web site the best ranking ability possible, it is highly recommended that each page of the site include a unique TITLE tag and unique META tags, individually tailored to the content of that specific page.

For example, our fictional Miami florist may have a page devoted to wedding bouquets and another devoted to funeral wreaths. The TITLE and META tags for the first page should include keywords relating to weddings and the page about wreaths should utilize keywords relating to funerals and sympathy.

The use of tailored TITLE and META Tags on each page creates multiple entry points to a web site and enables relevant content to be found in search engines no matter where it resides on a site. For example, instead of relying on visitors to arrive via the Home Page, the optimization of individual site pages makes each page more visible in the search engines, providing additional gateways to the site's content. The more pages optimized, the wider the range of keywords and phrases that can be targeted and the more entry points are created to a site.


About The Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.



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