Meta-tags are still an important tool for successful search engine marketing. Search engines focus on three primary meta tags to help them determine the relevance of a web site for a particular search word or phrase.
The Title Tag – The name of the page or site
The Description – What the site is about
The Keywords – Words people use to find the site
To see what the tags look like, take a look at the meta data of your competitor’s web sites by viewing their source code. To see this, watch the video below of follow directions here.
Do a search for what you do on Google. Say you do “celebrity photography.” Put the phrase in Google and you might see something like this.
Click on one of the organic (not paid for) top links in the left column. Don’t click on a sponsored (paid) link.
When you get to the site, go to the top menu in your browser, click on View > Page Source. In the code page look for the meta data. You’ll see some code near the top that looks like this:
This is what we are working on writing.
To build a selection of keywords, start with who, what and where.
First, who are you?
Start with your name and include any misspellings of your name so people can still find you even if they spell your name wrong. Google corrects words it finds in the dictionary but not names.
If your name is Diane, also include Dianne and Dian.
What do you do?
Make a list of the single words to describe what you do. Any words that tell people what you do might be the word people use to find you.
If you’re a photographer, you might also use the words photography, photos, and portraits.
We can’t assume people looking for you who met you once or heard about you will remember exactly what you do so we might also include related words like photo journalism, video, etc. Remember, we are using words most people would use to search for you, not just words you use as a professional. They may not even be real words like videographer.
Then become specific in the kind of product or service you provide to create more targeted keyword phrases like “celebrity photography” or “celebrity stock photography.” These will be the bulk of the final words you use.
You might end up with a list like this: celebrity, photography, nyc, new york, famous people, photos, celebrity photographer, portraits, celebrity stock photos, pet photography, video, celebrities,
Where are you located?
Next, if you offer a product or service that is used locally you want to add the location. People often search locally first even if the service is not something we associate locally. I like doing business with people in Brooklyn so even if I shop online, I feel better doing business with my neighbors so I might add “Brooklyn” to the search phrase I would use.
Add the city where you’re located and any words for the city. Someone in NYC would use like nyc, new york, ny, manhattan, new york city, etc.
The final set of keywords must contain less than 250 characters including spaces.
Now the hard part, actually writing the Title Tag and Description
Your Description and Title Tag together should be compelling enough to generate a click through from a search result. You have to put yourself in the search engine visitor’s position. They are looking for something very specific. The description you provide for your page has to convince the person that you are providing exactly what they are looking for. If a user comes to your site and the Title and Description Tags don’t accurately match the content they actually find, you are less likely to be considered a reputable source of information.
How to write a Meta Title Tag
The Title Tag should be no longer than 80 characters and should contain words and phrases that accurately describe the content of a page or site. It is one of the most important tags for a search engine. It should contain keywords, but not repeats, of terms you hope to be found for. It should also be as readable as possible. You must consider that the Title Tag will be the first thing someone sees when you appear in a search result.
How to write a Meta Description
The description for a web site is an explanation of the page and its contents. It should contain keywords and phrases you hope to be found for, but it should also read like an introductory lead-in for the topic or service you are highlighting. The description should be no more than 150 characters including spaces and should say very simply what it is that you do or sell. These are the words Google will show in the search results.
Research has shown that a call to action, or benefit-driven statement, will usually produce more clicks than a basic description but this is not always appropriate. Not “I am the best photographer with 25 years of experience.” but “Hire the best photographer” or “Get better results with experience.”
How Google reads your Web site
When Google scans your site, they’ll look at a number of things for consistency to see if the site really has content relevant to the key words in the meta data. It looks at the Web address, or URL, the title of the page, the description, the first paragraph of the home page, the text in the links on the page and then the last paragraph of the page. We want to make sure all these things are consistent.