How To Use META Tags

by Martin Malden

I saw another question on META tags today, specifically on the use of Title, Description, Keywords and Footer.  Here’s a copy of my response:

The Title Tag

This tag is what appears in the blue bar at the very top of your browser window.

Google currently places a lot of emphasis on the Title tag in search results. This is also what appears as the blue (linked) heading on each item in the natural search results – the equivalent of the headline in an Adwords ad.  So it’s worth thinking carefully about what you put there.

Title tags must be descriptive of what’s on the page and you should get your keyword into them for the best SEO effect.

Keep titles to 80 characters or less and make them unique to each page

The Description tag

This is what appears under the title in the search results, and describes what your page is about. Think of this as an Adwords ad – a way of enticing people to click through to your page.

Write Descriptions using the AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This will help to improve their effectiveness at getting click throughs.

Keep descriptions to 150 characters or less and make them unique to each page.

META Keywords

These are the primary keywords for the page. Don’t use too many – I use no more than 3 or 4, often less. Keywords should be unique to each page.

Google has been quite clear that they don’t refer to META keywords any more, but some of the other search engines may, so it’s probably still just about worth using them!

The footer

This is not a META tag, but you can use the footer area of your page to place the code for Google Analytics or another stats tracking code snippet.

Place this code after the </html> tag and before the </body> tag, which you’ll find near the bottom of your page in the source code view.

Apart from the Title, Description and Keywords, there are plenty more META tags available.

I generally only use other META tags, though, when I want to tell the browser to do (or not do) something specific on the page. For example, telling it not to cache the page.

The best and easiest way to get on top of this quickly is to go to one of the many sites that will generate your META tags for you – free.

They will ask you simple questions that you respond to in a web form and then they create a full set of META tags from your answers. You simply copy the code they give you into the source code view of your page between the <head> and </head> tags, and you’re done.

The site I use for this is here.

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