Metatags in Web Pages for Beginners
Metatags are vital in helping search engines understand what your web pages are about. All webmasters should know what each metatag does and how to best implement them...
Why Are Metatags Important?
Metatags are html machine parsable instructions. They allow webmasters to instruct search engine robots to gather information about your web pages. Metatags are located within the header section of a website. Search bots regularly visit websites to cache new pages or changes to existing webpage content. When the crawler hits a webpage, it first obeys any metatag instructions. The standard caching procedure would then be to gather up the content, then follow all other available links from that webpage to repeat the process elsewhere. The results are stored by the search engine off line, in their own data centres for analysis. The spider analyses all available HTML elements of the page.
This process facilitates changes in rankings, based on the data the search bot has collected. Search engines use this metadata information to present a listing in search results. Metadata is data (information) about data. This means you can place your targeted keywords and key phrases into metatags. So, including metatags is a fundamental first step for webmasters when designing a web page. This is because users will see the metatitles and meta description and use these to determine whether or not to click through. Some metatags are essential to help search engines make sense of the body content of the document. Well constructed metatags can assist in driving traffic through to your website. Whereas, poorly through through meta tags will put people off from wanting to click on a search result.
Be aware that different search engines apply different weight to individual metatags. For instance, some search engines ignore metatag keywords as a ranking factor. Beware that you should never use metatags to duplicate or 'stuff' targeted key words in the vain hope for more user traffic. This very old trick is seen as a form of spamming. The golden rule is that metatags should reflect and accurately summarise the meaning of the body content.
The Most Important Metatags
There are a large number of metatags available for webmasters to exploit. Some are more influential than others. Not all of them are mandatory. Firstly, you need to create a 'metatitle'. The metatitle should include your primary key phrase, (ideally as the first word or phrase at the beginning of the metatitle). The metatitle must also be meaningful, relevant and compelling to your website visitors. It should also include a strong ‘call to action’. This is a concise expression that invites users to do something. So plan your metatitle particularly carefully and deliberately. It is critical that your key phrases are included in the metatitle and that they have appropriate key phrase proximity and keyword density ratios. W3C guidelines length of the title tag should, be 64 characters (including spaces) or less. This is about 6 to 8 words.
Some words of caution... Never repeat your primary key phrase in the metatitle, and try not to use the same word twice. If you must repeat yourself find a close semantic alternative. Never use other people's company names, brands or trademarks unless you been authorized to do so. Likewise, avoid using 'stop words', as these are ignored and waste valuable character space. Most of all, never insert a metatitle that bears no resemblance to the textual content of the web page. If you are not sure what to write, type in your primary key phrase into a search engine to see what your competitors have produced as their Metatags. However, do not blindly follow them. Checking competitors websites is just to get a gut feel for what works and what does not work from a user perspective.
Secondly, the 'meta description' metatag allows you to summarise the content of the body text. It may or may not be used by search engines, as a snippet of information. So, it is critical to get it right so that users will feel compelled to click through to your website and find out more. The meta description should ideally contain your targeted key phrase, and be directly related to the content of the page. If you have identified secondary key phrases, make sure these also appear in the meta description (appearing by order of importance).
The meta description should include between 24 and 26 words overall, split into two sentences of roughly equal length. It should not exceed 180 characters including spaces. Both sentences should introduce the page in different ways, so that if the whole meta description tag is used as the snippet, it will be pointed. We suggest writing two separate sentences that have broadly similar meanings. Make sure that each page has its own unique meta description to distinguish it from other web pages.
Thirdly, 'meta keywords' can also be used to help some search engines qualify the textual content of the page. There are much less significant, but still worth having in the header section. Your primary key phrase should appear as the first meta keyword then separated by commas the other keywords or phrases. Use exact phrase match. The process of choosing meta keywords forces you to think about what is appropriate in the body text of the article. Separate each key phrase with a comma and no spaces. Use lowercase and use plural phrases were possible. Ensure all Meta keywords actually appear as ‘on page elements’. Picking ones that are not in the body section could be clasified as keyword stuffing). Never repeat any key words twice and limit the number of phrases to about 10 per page.
Lastly, the 'ROBOTS' metatag provides key instructions for search bots. You can tell bots to cache your webpage by adding the 'INDEX' instruction. If you change this to 'NOINDEX', bots will NOT to copy the page and NOT include it in the search engine. Bots don't like wasting time and bandwidth caching irrelevant material that does not help users.
Metatags Live Example
The following shows the metatags we used on this web page:-
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="INDEX, FOLLOW"/>
<META NAME="Title" CONTENT="Metatag Keywords Basics. How to Implement Metatags Correcty"/>
<TITLE>Metatag Keywords Basics. How to Implement Metatags Correcty</TITLE>
<META NAME=description CONTENT="Learn how metatag keywords can help your webpages get cached correctly. View examples of meta tags to help spiders understand what your website is all about."/>
<META NAME=keywords CONTENT="metatag keywords,keyphrases,spiders,searchbots,search engines,cache,internet,call to action,compelling,keyphrase"/>
<META NAME=REVISIT-AFTER CONTENT="2 Days"/>
<link rel=stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://www.webmastercommunity.com/css/style.css"/>
There are lots more meta tags you can use. Please read the W3schools metadata guide for more information. We hope you found the introductory guide to Metatags informative ad instructional!