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The eMarketing Digest
© 1996 - 2008
Library of Congress
ISSN 1522-6913

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Volume III, Issue V, Sep. 19, 2005

META tags: Title, Keywords and Description
by Gary K. Foote

META tags have been used online for years and, though search engines use them as only part of their method of discerning what your website is about they still remain an important element in your SEO strategy. Here's a brief on their proper use.

Even though it is not exactly a META tag, the most important of your tags within your webpage is your <TITLE> tag. Consider your prime keywords for inclusion in your <TITLE> tag. Don't misunderstand this to mean you should stuff all your keyphrases into your <TITLE> tag, but instead try to work in your number one keyphrase. Here are some examples of good and not-so-good titling;

  1. <TITLE>Johnny's Furnishings: Home Furnishings, Beds, Chairs, Tables, Lamps, Flooring, Carpeting</TITLE>

  2. <TITLE>Johnny's Home Furnishings: Beds, Chairs, Tables, Lamps, Flooring, Carpeting</TITLE>

  3. <TITLE>Home Furnishings: Beds, Chairs, Tables, Lamps, Flooring, Carpeting: Johnny's Furnishings</TITLE>

There's not much difference to the untrained eye, but let's look deeper. The business is a home furnishings business. That makes home furnishings this website's prime keyphrase. The rest are secondary phrases that may or may not be used or appended to the phrase 'home furnishings'.

Example #1 opens with the business name and that is great - if your market is local and people already know your business name and are most likely to search on that keyphrase for your products or services. For businesses trying to reach out to a more global market, Johnny's Furnishings isn't going to be your customer's first choice of search terms, so the business name should not go first.

Example #2 is better as it includes the prime keyphrase in the first few words. But it still has Johnny as the initial word in the title. If you want to get your prime keyphrase to be seen as such you must make it so as in;

Example #3 is best of all as Home furnishings is the first phrase used. After that come the secondary phrases with the business name and zipcode coming last. Put your business name last?, you ask? Certainly. You are not selling your business name. You are selling home furnishings. Zipcode too? Sure - many search engines are now utilizing regional searches and lots of people put a zipcode into a search to narrow things down to a local level.

Now we get to the actual <META> tags. The first should be your <META Name="keywords"> tag. It should contain your prime keyphrase first. Then your secondary phrases should follow. Then tertiary terms. Again, at the end place your business name as well as your zipcode to generate local search returns. Here's how I would use the<META Name="keywords"> tag in this case.

<META Name="keywords" Content="home furnishings,beds,chairs,tables,lamps,flooring,carpeting,oak furniture, pine furniture,Tiffany,bedroom sets,living room sets,Johnny's Furniture,00000">

Of course you would replace the 00000 in the above example with your own zipcode.

Notice also that there are no spaces between commas and following keywords and a few have been added to the list we have used so far. That is because your keyword tag allows more freedom in that it doesn't have to conform to grammatical rules.

Then come your site's description <META> tags.

<META Name="description" Content="Home furnishings like Beds, Chairs, Tables, Lamps, Flooring and Carpeting. Furnish your home in style. Johnny's Home furnishings 00000 [zipcode]">

It is important to include your prime keyphrase in this META description just as in the above tags. "Johnny's Furniture" would not help you with your search engine placement as much as would the more descriptive [and key-laden] "Home furnishings, bedroom, livingroom, oak and pine. Shop online - we deliver.".

Finally don't use the same tags on every page in your site. Instead tailor them to each page's content in your site. On your Living Room page use living room related keyphrases. On your Bedroom furniture feature your bedroom related keys as your primary keys, etc.

If you follow common sense you should be able to effectively use <META> tags for better search engine positioning.

Oh, and one more thing - don't repeat any word more than three times in any single <META> tag as most search engines will consider this 'spamming' their indices and possibly exclude your site altogether.

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