Meta tags still play an important role in optimizing the performance of your website. By far, the most critical meta tag for website optimization is called a meta description.
Over 80% of all people use internet search engines to find information they need on the internet. After a person does a query on a search engine such as Google, a list of hundreds of web sites are displayed. There are going to be two factors that determine the likelihood of a user clicking on your website. One factor is your page ranking. The higher up you are on the search page, the more likely that your web site will be selected. The other main factor that will decide how many visitors you get is how well you advertise it in your meta description. This meta tag gives you 150 to 160 character space to sell browsers what your website is offering. This is why adding meta tags is so important.
Ironically, many web site owners don’t even bother adding meta tags in their web pages. In fact, only 20% of all web pages contain meta tags. This new trend happened after Google announced in 2009 that they were no longer going to use the information inkeyword meta tags or meta descriptions to determine page ranking.
Not taking the time to add meta tags to your website is a big mistake for several reasons. First off, if you don’t supply a meta tag that describes your website’s content, the internet search engines will do it for you. The problem with letting search engines create your website description in their listings, is that they’ll usually resort to pulling the first few lines in your web page. This can then result is a description of your web site that is pure gibberish. It is not uncommon for descriptions generated by the internet search engines to contain items such as the alt text of a graphic banner or your top menu.
It’s important to remember that although most of the top search engines don’t use the information in meta tags to determine page ranking, your ranking is affected by how many people click through to your web site. As a result, creating a compelling descriptive meta tag that causes more people to click through to your web site will indirectly improve your page ranking.
Getting a high page ranking on internet search engine sites is something to strive for. A higher page ranking results in more “impressions” being made on people searching for information regarding a particular keyword or phrase. Although lots of impressions are nice, they don’t bring home the bacon. You only make money when people click through to view the content on your website. This is accomplished by writing a compelling meta description.
So how do you write an effective meta description? First off, it needs to contain keywords or phrases that people are actually looking for on the internet search engines such as Google. As a result, it is important to check the relative number of queries for various keywords and phrases that relate to your web page. I personally use the software program called Longtailpro.com to do this research. On Longtailpro.com, I enter in various keywords and phrases that I’m interested in researching their SEO potential. Within minutes, it generates a report containing the words and phrases I typed in and hundreds of related words and phrases. In another column, the average number of daily queries is then listed for each word or phrase. I can then export this list as a saved Microsoft Excel document where I can highlight and edit my list.
Now it is important to realize that your meta description can be deemed irrelevant by the internet search engines if it what it describes is not contained in the content of your web page. If that happens, the search engines will disregard it and create a replacement that might not be effectively advertising your web site. Therefore, make sure that any keywords or phrases used in your meta tag are also in your web page.
Now you will be initially tempted to use terms and phrases in your meta description and in your web page that have the highest search rates. For example, you might decide use the term “entrepreneur”. At first glance, this search term seems like a clear winner. On Google, entrepreneur is being queried over 165,000 times a day. Unfortunately, this will not generate the results that you are striving for. This is because the term “entrepreneur” is a very competitive keyword. In these cases, there will be many well-established authoritative web sites and blogs that have content containing this keyword.
Since many of these have been published for quite some time, they have a lot of followers. As a result, they have a record of thousands of click-throughs that add weight to their page ranking when a user queries a keyword such as “entrepreneur.” Therefore, if you are a relatively new website, you might up being listed on page 200 whenever a person queries “entrepreneur”.
When you are a new web site or blog, it is better to focus on keywords that still get a fair number of daily queries but, at the same time, give you a fighting chance of getting good page ranking when someone does a search engine query. A good rule of thumb is to find terms or phrases that are being queried 1,000 to 4,000 times a day. An ideal number would be around 3,600 daily queries.
Another important thing to keep in mind when you are creating your meta descriptors is that you are writing it in order to be read by people and not the search engine robot crawlers. Remember that the search engine robots are crawling your content and not your meta tags when they are determining page ranking! Therefore, first and foremost make sure your descriptive meta tag is effective at advertising your web page. The main reason you include keywords and phrases is to help browsers confirm that your site contains information related to that term or phrase they are looking for.
Resist the temptation to cram your meta tag description with all kinds of keywords and phrases. This strategy can actually hurt your page ranking, because search engines will interpret your web page as spam. So the bottom line is to avoid creating meta tags stuffed with keywords that don’t read well or that could be interpreted as spam.
When creating your descriptive meta tag you need to limit its’ length to between 150-160 characters. If you make it any longer than that, it will be cut off and it might not make sense to the viewer.
Another important rule to keep in mind when you are creating a descriptive meta tag is that you should avoid using quotes and non-alphanumeric characters. Internet search engines tend to cut off anything in your description that comes after a quote or a non-alphanumeric character.
There is one type of meta tag that almost nobody ever uses anymore. That is keyword meta tags. Unfortunately, because of former abuse, the major search engines ignore this meta tag. Putting in keyword meta tags can even potentially harm your page ranking. This is especially true if you stuff it with terms that aren’t in your content.
In summary, descriptive meta tags are a useful tool for boosting your web site’s performance. If written well, it can persuade a high percentage of viewers that are doing a search engine query to click on your website.
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