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META Tags and How to Use Them

META tags are the information that you place in the <HEAD> section of your Web site which does not display in the browser window. META tags allow the developer to communicate certain information to the search engines, other automated services and other Web developers about their site.

  • The name of your site
  • A description of your site that you would like the search engine to use
  • The keywords that you would like your site to be found under

META tags provide Web site developers with control over how your site is listed in a spider-based search engine. If you don't include them in your document, the spider will likely take the first 25 words on your Web site and include them as the name and description of the site. Have you ever seen a Web site listed in a search engine as follows?

[COMPANY] [INFORMATION] [PRODUCTS] [SERVICES] [OVERVIEW] Hi, and thanks for taking the time to visit our company page. We hope you'll find...

http:// www. gizmonicselectric. com/ -size 22K -22 Sept 96

You guessed it, this was the navigation bar that the site developer included at the top of the page. The search engine's spider grabbed the first text it found and hoped it described the page. Most important, nothing about this listing is compelling. You have no idea what the company does or why you should visit the page. META tags are easy to build. Just follow the format below and replace our title, description and keywords with your own. Here is an example of META tags:
<TITLE> increase traffic with iProspect. com</ TITLE> <META NAME=" Keywords" CONTENT=" increase traffic, increase Web site traffic, search position, report position, report search ranking, rank, search ranking, monitor search positions, web site promotion, internet promotion, optimize search positions, improve traffic">
iProspect. com is the premier Web marketing e-agency - want traffic?">
<!--This is a comments tag, you can put keywords here, too-->
</ HEAD>

Clearly the site above wants to place well for both the product name, "Increase Traffic," and the name of the company, "iProspect. com."

The <HEAD> Tag

Start your META tag section with a <HEAD> tag and end with a </ HEAD> by adding the front leaning slash. All of your META tags should be contained within these two tags.

The <TITLE> Tag - The Most Important HTML Tag on Your Web site

The <TITLE> tag displays the name of the site that will appear in the top of the browser. This is the most important HTML tag on your Web site!

<TITLE> is the title tag and must be ended with a </ TITLE> tag.
Many people visiting your Web site never notice this text that appears in the top blue border of their browser, but most search engines assign the most significance to text contained in the

<TITLE> tag. Between these two title tags, identify your site but try to make it sound interesting and worth visiting, while at the same time, trying to get as many of your keywords into it as
possible. Always put your <TITLE> tag right after the <HEAD> tag.

Most of the large search engines will use as their title for your site in the search results the contents of your <TITLE> tag exactly as you composed it.


This tag allows you to write a description of your Web site that some search engines will use instead of what they would otherwise randomly select from the copy on your pages. Not all search engines recognize or read this HTML tag. Here's how you use it:
<META NAME=" Description" CONTENT=" Description of your site.">

Start your description META tag like the above followed by not more than 25 words in general that are a compelling and interesting description of your site.


This tag lets you suggest keywords to the search engines that you would like your Web site to be returned for. Again, not all the search engines will use this tag and some won't even consider keywords included in this tag in their scoring of your Web site. Here's how you use this tag:

<META NAME=" Keywords" CONTENT=" Keyword1, Keyword2, Keyword3">
List all the keywords you can think of that you would like your site to come up under within the length limits for each engine.

The <!--Comment Tag -->

A comment or remark tag is typically used to record comments about your Web site or HTML code that you don't want viewed on the actual page. This tag can also be filled with relevant keyword content. Again, not all the search engines will use this tag, and some won't even consider keywords included in it for scoring of your Web site, but some do. Here's how you use this tag:

<!--Here are some comments that visitors to your Web site won't be able to see in their browser because the words are included in this non-printing tag -->

Technically, comment tags are not considered part of the META tag family of HTML code except that for Web site marketing purposes you can include these comments between the <HEAD> and </ HEAD> tags where the META tags go. But you can also include comment tags throughout your Web site. Comment tags can be used at the top, middle and bottom of Web pages for keyword placement to help increase keyword weight.
Which search engines recognize each of these tags is discussed in the "Engine by Engine Analysis" section of this report.

Using the <ALT> Tag for Keywords

The <ALT> tag is an HTML tag used to describe a graphic on your Web page. Often this tag is used simply to describe the graphic a visitor will see when the page finishes loading. Sometimes, this tag is used to describe a photo or graphic that the user will never see. For instance, if the person visiting the site is browsing the Web in the "graphics off" mode, they will see the text you place in the <ALT> tag instead of the graphic. People do this when they have slow connections and they don't want to be slowed down by slow-loading images.

The <ALT> tag can be filled with keywords and some search engines will read and assign points to keywords contained in this tag. Again, consult the search engine by search engine breakdown in the second half of this report. Here is how the <ALT> tag is commonly used:
<IMG SRC=" manonscooter. gif" ALT =" This is the picture of a man on a scooter">
And here is how the ALT tag might be used to yield a keyword advantage:
<IMG SRC=" manonscooter. gif" ALT =" keyword1, keyword2, keyword3, keyword4, keyword4, keyword5">

Using the <H1> Through <H6> Heading Tags

Headings are the larger print or subtitles on a page. The smaller then number in the heading tag, the larger the font size. For example, <H1> is larger than <H3>. Some search engines score keywords and text found in heading tags better than other text on your pages. This makes perfect sense since text found in headings usually identifies a particular theme or section of content.

Most marketing brochures and even books have chapter and section headings that talk about something significant to come. As many reading this report know, for the HTML heading tag, the higher the number, the smaller the font size. Why not mark particularly important phrases and keywords within your body copy with a headline tag? With just a little bit of experimenting you can usually make it look presentable and not that noticeable. This way, some search engines will give extra weight to those words or phrases.

Therefore, repeat your most important keywords in the heading tags just as you should do with the <TITLE> tag for the page. Example of a page with heading tags:

<HEAD> <TITLE> Widgets and More!</ TITLE>
<META name=" description" content=" Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.">
<META name=" keywords" content=" blue widgets, green widgets, red widgets, Jerry's Widget Emporium">
</ HEAD>
<BODY> <H1> Widgets Explained:</ H1>
<P> Widgets by Jerry's Widget Emporium are the best widgets money can buy.</ P> </ BODY>
</ HTML>

The above example assumes "widget" is the most important keyword, which is why it is used in the heading tag as well as the title and the body. Use multiple heading tags throughout your page if you like, but always try to fill them with the keywords you are trying to emphasize. If you're using Microsoft FrontPage or another WYSIWYG editor, it should allow you to select a heading "style" or some other way to visually create the equivalent to an HTML heading tag.



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