Web Optimisation & Meta Tags

So, you want to increase the traffic to your website and make more money from your online business? Having a flash-looking site won’t pay your way alone. In order to increase your site’s rankings you must first of all optimize it and make it ready for the search engines.

A Web Optimisation Habit

Imagine you are a search engine spider, dashing around the web at break-neck speed, looking for nutritious content. If you encounter a web page that has coding issues or is far too large, you will either grab some of it and run or none of it at all. After all, you’re a busy arachnid.

Ensuring that your HTML code is correctly written and as close ‘to the point’ as possible will increase your chances of the spider feasting on its entire content. Using free tools such as the W3 validator will help you not only write better and shorter pages for the search engines, but also allow you to understand the requirements of different web-browsers.

Some have said in the past that using W3 techniques is more effort than it is worth. But what can be more important that constructing a page that A. everybody will be able to see, B. search engines can correctly index and C. (if you live in the UK) complies with the DDA act? My point is, writing code properly shouldn’t be a chore, but should be ingrained in your understanding of HTML. Make a habit of writing your coding using W3 techniques.

Remember this:You want the search engines to index your human-orientated copy and not have to filter through vast amounts of code. If you right-click on a web page and choose ‘View Source‘ (on IE) or ‘View Page Source‘ (Firefox), you will see the coding for that page. Can you find the copy that your visitors will read? If this proves to be a big task, your ‘code to copy’ ratio may need addressing. You can greatly decrease the page’s HTML using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets); an incredible and easy to learn language that controls the appearance and even layout of a webpage. Using CSS will greatly decrease the amount of repetitive coding which can encumber the indexing process and slow down page-load.

Understanding Meta Tags

Meta tags are those codings located in the head section of your webpage that index summaries and keywords:

<title>Holiday accommodations in the UK</title>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”holiday accommodations, uk accommodations, holidays, cottages, hotels, campsites”>
<meta name=”description” content=”UK holiday accommodations. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Self catering, serviced Hotels, Guest Houses, Campsites and Holiday Cottages.”>

Before we take a look at the various types of meta tags, I should point out that that best way to optimise a page for good search engine results is to target each page of your website with a collection of (up to) 3 keywords and/or phrases, i.e. ‘books, cheap paperbacks, first additions’.

Choose wisely; do a bit of research to see what phrases potential visitors are using in order to find a website like the one you own. Once you have established your keywords and phrases, keep them in mind as you develop your copy and ensure that you use them within header tags – <h1>My Keywords</h1>.

Meta Keywords

Much has change in the past 5 years with regards to meta tags. When I first started putting websites together in the mid 90’s, the ‘keywords’ meta tag was a highly important means to convince a search engine that your page is the very best in your chosen subject matter. These days, all of the major search engines disregard keywords in favour of page content intended for the human visitor.

I still use the keywords meta-tag; some of the minor search engines rely on them and I find them useful for helping me to maintain a record of the keywords I have optimised that particular page for.

Title tag

This is a significant tag. Use the title tag to summarise your web page and ensure that your keywords are incorporated within it, putting them near to the beginning of the tag. Omit any ‘stop words’ such as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘a’, ‘as’, etc as they take up precious and limited title space. I like to use hyphens instead of stop words.

<title>Web optimisation and the meta tags</title>

becomes…

<title>Web optimisation – meta tags</title>

Meta description

Google quite frequently ignores this tag and uses copy from the actual page itself. However, it sometimes uses the supplied meta description. Also, many other search engines depend on it so please do include it. Use this tag to summarise your page’s content. Try and keep it short and sweet. I’d advise you use between 10 and 15 words, utilising your 3 keywords and phrases. Don’t try and pack it out with other keywords – keep focused on those that you have already designated.

Conclusion

As you have probably already gathered; optimising a page for great search results and high rankings is not just about using meta tags. If you want to be no.1 on Google, Yahoo and MSN, you must offer content that is both optimised for the sake of the search engine spider and (most crucially) containing natural, keyword rich information intended for your human visitor. If your content is rich, it will not only appeal to the search engines, but also other web owners will link to your site. The more relevant links you have to your site, the better your page rank.

Resource

Try my meta tag generator. It’s free to use: Meta Tag Generator