Search Engines 101 (Part 2): Creating Your Meta Tag Keywords and Description
Once your site is in tip-top shape, then you need to look at the less visible aspects that help to establish your natural search engine ranking. A search engine is a coordinated set of programs that go to every page on a web site that wants to be indexed, examines the pages, evaluates them based on a pre-defined algorithm, then creates the searchable index for everyone else to use. The most popular search engines are Yahoo! and Google, but there are literally thousands of niche engines out there. We'll cover registering for these engines in a later section.
Meta tags help describe the contents of your web site. They aren't visible to the visitors of your site, but are located in your web site code for other reasons. The information that you provide in a meta tag is used by search engines to index your page so that someone searching for that kind of information will be able to find it. There are several kinds of meta tags, but the most important for search engine indexing are the keywords meta tag and the description meta tag. The keywords meta tag lists the words or phrases that best describe the contents of the page. For instance, if you are a web host, like SimpleNet, then you will place words and phrases such as "hosting, shared hosting, simplenet, web hosting" in your meta tags. The description meta tag includes a brief description of the page that is often used by the search engine as a description for your site when users are searching for a particular topic. To use the SimpleNet example again, their meta tag description is, "SimpleNet is a premier provider of domain name registration, web hosting, email, ecommerce, dedicated servers, and co-location services." Well-written meta tags can help your web site rank higher in search results because the tags are part of what is compared to what people type when they are searching for something.
Here is an example of what a meta tag can look like:
<TITLE>SimpleNet - Web Hosting Solutions</TITLE>
<META name="description" content="SimpleNet is a premier provider of domain name registration, web hosting, email, ecommerce, and dedicated servers.">
<META name="keywords" content="commerce, domain name, dedicated server, ecommerce, web hosting, web page, web site, web site building, web site hosting">
When you create your meta tags, be sure to only use keywords that appear on that page. Use of keywords that aren't found in the page copy could be viewed as keyword spam by the search engines.
Most web site design programs have a page or menu dedicated to dealing with your meta tags.
A few helpful hints when creating meta tag keywords:
- Meta Tag Generator
- Use a maximum of 24 words or phrases in each of your meta tags
- Focus on only 4-5 keywords per page
- Use phrases that describe your site, products, services
- Use your meta tag words and phrases in your web site copy
- Also use your key phrases in links to other pages
- Visit Gorank.com to determine your keyword density (seek 3-4% of your page). Avoid creating pages with extremely high keyword density. They may be regarded by the search engines as an attempt to keyword stuff, or seek higher ranking by placing too many keywords (hidden or visible) on the page.
- Test your web site's search engine friendliness at:
- See what the spiders see by using this site: