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2003 Guide To Website Optimization

Written By: Alessandro DeBarros

Using Meta Tags will increase your visibility in search engine results and will bring you added traffic from people searching for your specific product. This guide will help you become familiar with Meta Tags and will show you some little know tricks in order to make your meta tags more effective.

META TAGS EXPLAINED

META tags are HTML Tags that describe the contents of a web page. The primary purpose of Meta tags is to help catalog and categorize the contents of a web page. If your pages do not contain them then they may not get categorized well by the search engines.

Meta tags are used because they help web pages get better rankings on the search engines. They also allow the web site creator to write the description the search engines will show, specify keywords that search engines will use to find your site, and also a lot more information which helps search engines better find and rank your web site.

I recommend that you at least include the ‘Description’, ‘Keyword’ and ‘Robots’ tags. Also the ‘Title’ of your page plays an important role in helping search engines (and visitors) to determine the content of your site.Only 25% of sites use meta tags, but most search engines evaluate META tags when they rank your site.

Let’s look at how meta tags are properly placed in your page, the example below uses the most commonly used attributes.

Description

Keywords

Robots

Revisit

Meta Data Example. Insert your Meta data between your HEAD Tags as shown below:

Home Audio Video, Theater Systems, Car Audio, Stereo Electronics, DVD Players, and more for less at AudioPro



DESCRIPTION META TAG

Example:

The description tag gives the search engine the description that you want for your web site. If you don’t have description tag, the robots will simply choose the first couple hundred words on your page and create its own description.

Your main goal with the description is to make it appealing to a human. This text is what’s going to convince them to click your listing, so think carefully about it. Also, make sure you have a different description for each page on your site.

Quick Tips:

An ideal description should be somewhere within 150 to 200 characters, which correctly describes the content of the page.

Keep the words consistent between your description and keyword tags.

Avoid sentences such as: The best site on the web

KEYWORD META TAG

Example:

Search engines will often use the keywords found on your pages as the primary source to categorize your website based on the search engines indexing algorithms (proprietary algorithms which index your website in search engine databases).

Be sure you choose keywords that are the most relevant to your site and avoid excessive repetition as many search engines will penalize your rankings for attempting to abuse their system. Similar to the Description META Tag, search engines give priority to the first few words in your description, so focus on your main keywords and then elaborate further by using synonyms or other related words.

Quick Tips:

Be specific. Usually, two-word and three-word phrases work better than single words.

When creating your keywords list, place the version of the keyword that your site visitors use the most at the beginning of your keyword list.

Since some keywords are commonly misspelled (such as the word “millennium”), you might want to put a misspelled keyword in your meta-tags. However, if that misspelled word does not appear in your main body text, this strategy is a waste of time. Search engines use both keyword frequency and keyword placement in their algorithms. If you are putting a misspelled keyword in only one place (i.e., your meta-tag keywords attribute), it’s not helping your web page’s relevancy because the keyword concentration for that one word is practically non-existent.

ROBOTS META TAG

Example:

The content of the Robots META tag contains directives separated by commas. Search engines send out what are called robots, crawlers or spiders to visit your site and gather web pages. The above defined directives are INDEX and FOLLOW. The INDEX directive specifies that an indexing robot should index the page, or add it as a search engine listing. The FOLLOW directive specifies that a robot is to follow links on the page.

REVISIT META TAG

Example:

The revisit meta tag defines how often a search engine should return to your site to re-index it. This is commonly used on web sites that are frequently updated. Possible values can be any amount of time you want: “30 days”, “3 months” “1 week”.

This covers the most common meta tags, however, there are also a number of additional tags which can be used in conjunction with your meta tags in order to increase your keyword relevancy, let’s look at the most common tags.

TITLE TAG

Example:
Home Audio/Video, Theater Systems, Car Audio, Stereo Electronics, DVD Players, and more for less at AudioPro

Although not an actual meta tag, the tag of your Web page is arguably the most important tag or element. Many search engines use the tag as the title of your page in the search results that appear to the user, and words used in your title tag are also determining your search engine ranking.

What this means to you is that this HTML tag must not only work to your advantage for keyword scoring, but also must be compelling to the reader. The title should be a maximum of 70 characters long and include the most relevant keywords of your web site.

Quick Tips:

Make your title interesting and “compelling” to the reader to convince them why they should click there.

Make sure every page on your site has a title representing the data on your page.

Try to be descriptive and use a title that lets people know what your site is about.

Don’t use all CAPS in your title. Search engines hate it and it’s difficult for users to read.

Make sure that title tag is grammatically correct

IMAGE ALT TAGS

Example:

Alt text provides a search engine with a “translation” of the content of the image (a search engine can’t read the text in an image – at least not yet). Alt text is presented in place of an image if the link to the image is broken or the visitor is using a text only browser. You should always use alt tags not only to increase ranking but also for usability purposes.

Quick Tips:

Be sure to use the keyword phrases that you also used in the copy of your page, title tag, meta description, and other tags.

Do not try to cram a bunch of keywords into the “alt” attribute. We recommend using no more than 2-3 per image.

Describe the image – do not just list keywords.

The “alt” attribute is also a good place for misspellings and plural keyword phrases that you may not have used elsewhere.

HEADING TAGS

Example:
Home Audio

Although they are not used very frequently any longer HTML heading tags can help improve your listings in the search engines too. Since they are “headings” the search engines figure that they are very closely related to the content of the page that they appear on.

So, just like with all of your other optimization efforts you should include your most important keyword phrases in heading tags on your page if you can.

Quick Tips:

Try to include your most important keyword phrases in heading tags on your page if you can.

Consider rethinking your page content. It is often very easy to take an existing page full of copy and find ways to break it up into separate sections with headings.

BODY TEXT

The copy on your page is also very important in order to achieve better search engine listings. Actually, it is very close to being as important as your title tag so make sure you keep reading! By ‘copy’ I mean the actual text that a visitor to your site would read.

Did you know that just like a visitor to your site would read the copy on your page to figure out what you have to offer, the search engines do too? And what do you think the search engines are looking for when they ‘read’ your page copy? Keyword phrases, of course!

Quick Tips:

For best results we recommend that each page you submit has at least 200 words of copy on it.

The copy should include your most important keyword phrases, but should remain logical & readable.

Be sure to use those phrases that you have used in your other tags (i.e. metas, alt, headings, title, etc.) during the optimization process.

Add additional copy filled pages to your site. For example, how-to articles, tips or tutorials. These types of content pages not only help you in the search engines, but many other sites will link to them too increasing your visitors.

YOU’RE NOW READY FOR THE SEARCH ENGINES

Now that your site is all ready, you can submit it to all the major search engines, this is the final and most important part of all of your search engine optimization campaign. As a rule of thumb, you should always submit to major engines by hand.

When you use some automated submission services, thousands of urls are submitted from one IP address (usually the server the software interacts with and updates from). The search engine detects that this IP is submitting a large number of pages and tends to ignore it or even ban submissions from that location.

The length of time to get listed varies depending on the search engine, here’s the length of time it currently takes to get listed at each of the major search engines once you have submitted your web page.

MSN – Up to 2 months
Google – Up to 4 weeks
AltaVista – Up to 1 week
Fast – Up to 2 weeks
Excite – Up to 6 weeks
Northern Light – Up to 4 weeks
AOL – Up to 2 months
HotBot – Up to 2 months
iWon – Up to 2 months

Take this time to learn and focus on other marketing techniques, the most successful websites use many different types of promotion techniques such as ezine marketing, offline advertising, pay per click campaigns, link exchanges, banner advertising, giveaways, and many more. An educated webmaster is a successful webmaster, take the time to continuously learn and grow.

About the Author

Alessandro DeBarros is a web marketing specialist for BrandBlast http://brandblast.com , a CT based firm whose cutting edge hosting services is quickly being recognized around the world as a leader in its field. At a current base of 5,000 clients, BrandBlast specializes in small to medium business hosting, providing small businesses with the services and support they need at affordable prices.

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