Tuesday, 14 May 2013
How to Write Meta Tags for SEO
Writing meta tags for SEO is not rocket science, although there are many who would have you think it is. It is time consuming, can be tedious if you have a lot of pages to write meta tags for, and you need a basic level of knowledge about SEO, but when you understand how important your meta tags are for SEO it can become interesting to see the difference good meta tags will make to your website.
Your title meta tag is what appears at the top of your browser, and it will be read by search engines and visitors to your website alike. As a result of Google’s algorithm updates in 2012 which have caught many out and sent them to the foot of the rankings (or page two, at least, which is pretty much the same thing) your title tags are more important in that they not only need to be relevant to the page to which they refer, but they need to be readable, rather than just a string of words.
Here are the basic rules for meta title tags:
Establish your keywords and key phrases with the lowest competition (but a high volume of searches) that best refer to the page you are optimising.
Write your meta title tags for SEO in less than 70 characters and put your main keyword or phrase at the front.
If possible make your title tag form a readable sentence and just use one, or no more than two, keywords or phrases.
Only use the pipe bar | as a separator. No other characters such as hyphens, commas etc.
Put your brand name at the end of your title tag.
Ensure that each meta title tag is relevant to the page to which it refers.
Don’t duplicate, make sure that each meta title tag is unique.
Don’t use too many keywords. If in doubt use one. The days of saying the same thing several different but very similar ways is well and truly over and you will be penalised if you keyword stuff – this applies to anywhere on your website.
Meta Description Tags
Write your meta description tags in a way that is interesting and enticing to readers when your title tag comes up in search. So whilst you’re doing all that keyword research and optimising your meta title tags, you should write readable descriptions to accompany them. Meta descriptions have two functions, therefore, both for Google and to get more clicks through to your website. It’s worth spending some time here.
The basic rules for meta descriptions tags:
The main keyword or phrase should be at the front
Don’t include extraneous characters.
Don’t write anything longer than a couple of sentences, 160 characters is the maximum (you’ll get used to writing to this length as you create your meta descriptions)
Don’t keyword stuff
Be relevant to each title tag, and make sure each meta description is unique – don’t duplicate.
Be enticing and interesting to the reader. Google will pick up on your keywords and phrases, but you want to get more visitors to your site, so entice them with good copy in your descriptions.
Don’t bother about these. It’s annoying how most CMSs still have the field for keywords which can encourage people to stuff them with keywords. One developer even commented to me that he included keywords as the client ‘expected to see them’. This is nonsense. As Matt Cutts of Google said a short while back: ‘Google does not use the keywords meta tag in our web search.’
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