Posted Friday, October 22, 2004
Ranking high in search engines is like a carefully balanced high-wire act: you can't tip too far to either side or you will not reach your goal. When creating a website, you must use both content and meta tags effectively, but not excessively. There are four main elements that you must harmonize: Meta Tags, Description, Title and Content.
By now, most people know that a meta tag is a word or group of words included in the web site's hidden HTML code and includes a description of the web site, or a set of keywords that reflect the site's content. Search engines use the meta tags to retrieve content about your site. But do you know how to place them? Do you know how to use them effectively? There are several websites that offer tools to help you create meta tags such as and .
These sites will walk you through the process of listing keywords and placing the code inside the tag, just after the tag. This is most important! Proper placement of the Meta tags is crucial to being found by search engine spiders as they travel the web. There are three things that you should never do when creating meta tag keywords:
* Never repeat keywords needlessly just to include more keywords.
* Never hide keywords by using text of the same color as the background
* Never use keywords that have nothing to do with your website
The description of your website will appear in your meta tag, , as well as in the listing that the search engine returns. Choose descriptive words carefully, ensuring that at least some of them are repeated in the content on your site, your meta tag keywords, and in your title. Now add a little clever marketing pizzazz! "Click Here for ___", is a great phrase to add to your description. Fill-in the blank so that the user is inspired to click for details, promotions, demos, online orders, etc. For instance, "Click here for free samples" is appropriate, but don't overuse "hype" words such as "free" or they could actually lower your ranking.
Your website title is truly the crown of your page and should harmonize with your meta tags and content. It is picked-up by spiders, displayed in search engines and on the title bar of the browser. Make this descriptive but not too long; anything over 100 characters needs to be re-thought. Remember 55-65 characters is about all that the user will see on the title bar, depending on their screen size and resolution. After that, the site title will truncate and they will see the browser name and version. So make those first characters count! If your company name is long, try to shorten it to just one or two key words; enough so that the user knows who it is, but more importantly what it is. What your site is about is imperative. Sure you know your company name and what you do, but will the user? Many people only look at the title first. Then if the title fits their need, they will bother to read the description, or better yet, to make the click and jump to your site. Remember, this is online reading, not print. There is a big difference in how the user approaches the process of reading for information on the web.
Content is still king and it reigns supreme over any other clever tactics anyone can come up with. Your site must have verbiage to back up the title, tags and description that you have already created. Repeating keywords or phrases from your description boosts your rankings as well as your credibility. This demonstrates that you are what and who you say you are. Say something substantive about your product or service. You can place little tidbits on the page to reflect these statements if you can't seem to work them into other paragraphs. Don't use an image of text use actual words instead. Using text in an alternative image tag is also a great complement, but it won't replace what you actually say within the website. You want to confirm to your viewers that while you may have used clever marketing techniques to get them there, their click won't be wasted.
About the Author
Bet Cox is the owner of Creative Sols, (http://www.creativesols.com), an information development company that specializes in delivering targeted business content for print, presentations, training and the web. You can reach her by email at email@example.com.