META tags are located in a website’s HTML code, and they contain descriptive phrases, keywords and other information. They are one of the ways that search engines determine the point of a particular page within a website.
Traditionally, search engines have displayed the META description as part of the search results as they provide the user information on what the site contains. Typically, Google does not use the META tags for this information and it formulates its own description based on the content within the website.
The predictable behavior and structure of early search engines enabled savvy web designers to manipulate the META tags to get their pages to appear at the top of search engine results. Often times this was achieved by filling up the META description and keywords tags with an abundant amount of words.
META Tags and Search Engines:
Although META tags continue to be useful for smaller search engines, the larger search engines, such as Google, have moved away from giving the META tag information as much importance and instead rely heavily on the content within website pages to determine the purpose and relevance of the site.
Though most of the major search engines no longer depend on the META tags to provide information on what the site is about, smaller search engines still utilize this information in determining the relevance of a website. Therefore, it’s worth spending the time to optimize META tags.
Optimizing Meta Tags:
It is critical to keep the META tags relevant to the specific website pages that they are associated with. For example, if the page is about a specific brand of shoes, then you do not want to include words like purse or handbag in the keyword of description META tags. In addition, limit the META keywords to between 5 and 8 targeted and compelling phrases. Finally, it is important to ensure the keywords phrases are also incorporated into the description. For instance:
META NAME=”Keywords” CONTENT=”search engine optimization, website optimization services, seo, increase search engine ranking, top search results”
META NAME=”Description” CONTENT=”ITX provides search engine optimization, (SEO) services to increase search engine ranking and helps our clients achieve top search results.”
The above example illustrates combining targeted keywords in both the keyword and description META tags. Additionally, placing the most important words at the start of a META tag description increases the likelihood of attaining a prominent search engine ranking for that particular keyword phrase.
Today, search engine marketers have changed their strategies to coincide with search engines. Today Search Engine Optimization specialists focus heavily on pages dedicated to a specific topic, keyword research, keyword density, overall page content, and linking strategy. They still include optimizing META tags, but they no longer count on just this strategy to increase a websites ranking in search engines.
About Patrick A. Spencer:
Patrick A. Spencer is a Delivery Manager in the IT Solutions group at ITX Corp. Mr. Spencer plays a key role in the analysis, architecture, design and deployment of major applications for clients in a variety of industries.