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Introduction to Keywords & Meta Tags

By Shannan Hearne-Fortner
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Keywords are the words and phrases used by people when they search for web pages. For example, if I am looking for free web editing programs, I would type something like "free web editor" into a search engine. Those are keywords.

Meta tags are descriptive words and phrases that you attach to your web pages and are invisible to the visitor to your site. However, anyone can view your meta tags if they right click on their mouse and choose "view source". These meta tags help search engines find your site. Make sure that you use meta tags and use them wisely. If someone has designed your site for you, ensure they have placed meta tags on your web page; you'd be surprised at how many sites I've seen that have few or no meta tags.

Meta tags include:
Keywords - These are descriptive phrases and words separated by commas attached to your index page. You should focus more on using phrases because that is usually how people enter keywords when they do a search for a website. To be considered search engine friendly, you should not have more than 875 characters in your keywords and you should not repeat any word more than three times.
Description - This is a description of your site that is attached to your index page. Use descriptive words and avoid filler words such as the, at, in, etc. Your description can be up to 150 characters long to considered to be search engine friendly
Title - Your title should be descriptive and contain your keywords. A title is attached to each page in your site. Choose your titles carefully, search engines use these readily to index your site. For example, if you sell educational books, titling your page "Jennifer's Resources" will not bringyou a lot of traffic. However, a title like "Educational Books - Science, Math, History for Children" would serve you a lot better. Think: what is my product and who is it for?

Note: This does not mean that you cannot use "Jennifer's Resources", or something like that in the headings that your visitors will see on the page. We are strictly talking about meta tags here.

Also, if you are selling a recognizable brand, use that name in your title. Titles can be up to 60 characters long to be considered search engine friendly.

Maximizing Meta Tags
In order to maximize your meta tags, you should choose words and phrases that people actually enter into search engines. You can find out what people are entering at:


It works like this. You enter the keyword you would like to use and see how many times people entered those keywords in the last month. This tool also gives alternate keyword phrases and tells you how many times they were
entered in one month.

Great! You type in home based business and 92,534 people entered those keywords last month, so you figure you should use those keywords. Here's the problem...go to Google and enter Home Based Business and what do you find?

On May 15, 2002 there were 4,030,000 sites listed. That's a lot of competition!

You may need to target some of your keywords a bit better. Pick more specific keywords that don't have as much competition. Think about your target market. This is a bit of work but may well be worth your time.

In the end, choose a few general key word phrases like "home based business" and then choose a few specific ones.

About the Author
Shannan Hearne-Fortner
President and Wizard
Marketing Your e-Business Better


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