Optimizing your website using Meta data

Thursday September 10, 2009 at 11:35am

For small companies who don’t have a large marketing budget, it can prove very difficult to generate website visitors. One effective way of increasing the number of visitors is to optimize the company’s website. The better optimized the website, the higher it will appear in the search engine results and the more likely visitors will click through.

With over 200 factors that are taken into consideration as to where a website appears in the organic search engine results, successful SEO comes down to making small tweaks and improvements that when combined with other improvements will make a big difference to where your website appears. Here we are going to concentrate on Meta Data and how to effectively write it.

What is Meta data?
Meta data consists of 3 parts, a title, description and keywords. They are placed into the code of each web page to help search engines effectively index. The more specific and accurate the Meta data (title, keywords and description), the more effective the search engines will be able to rank your web pages and improve your listing.

How to write effective Meta data
In order to write effective Meta data, it needs to accurately reflect the content of the page. Therefore the first step is to review the page content and list out the main key words and phrases. Try to choose keywords and phrases that you think people might type into the search engines, to find information regarding that pages content. This will be the base for the next stage which is to write the Meta data (Title, Keywords and Description) for each web page.

Title: The title tag should be no more than 80 characters in length. It should tell both the visitor and also the search engines the topic of that webpage. Note: The meta title is the most important of all three pieces of meta data, it needs to clearly explain the content of the page and will often be the same title that search engines will use to list your webpage.

Tip: For the home page of your website you can include additional information regarding your business, such as where you are located and the services you offer. By making this more informative you increase the chances of people clicking on your link in the search results.

Keywords: You should list out all the keywords in priority order that best reflect the pages content. Start with the most important keyword and finish with the least, separate each keyword or key phrase with a comma. Using approximately 10 words will be a lot more effective than having a long list of keywords. Never use keywords that aren’t specific to the pages content, but instead use keywords that match (actual words) the content on each individual page.

Best and worst practices for meta tag keywords:
1. Make the meta tag keywords relevant to the content of that page
2. Don’t leave meta tags with nothing in – or include terms such as “to be filled in later” or “new page”
3. Do not repeat keywords more than once in the meta tag keywords
4. Using 10 – 15 keywords is an ideal amount to use
5. List the keywords in lower-case

Description: The Meta description is a one or two sentence summary of the key points within the content of the page. It needs to be interesting, unique and highlight key words from the content. You should look to write no more than 255 characters. The search Engine will decide whether to use the meta tag description or take an extract of content for your page when listing your website.

Best and worst practices for meta tag descriptions:
1. Make meta tag descriptions relevant to the content of that page
2. Don’t leave meta tags with nothing in, or to include terms such as “to be filled in later” or “new page”
3. Try not to repeat keywords more than once in the meta tag description
4. Don’t make a meta tag description more than 255 characters (Google will only cut it short anyway)

Research into search engine placement, shows that 8 out of 10 times search engine listings dissuade web searchers from clicking on poorly written Meta titles and descriptions. Therefore writing interesting Meta data that engages the user and directly relates to the page content will dramatically improve the chances of you generating free organic search engine traffic.

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