Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Importance of Meta Tags

Over the past couple of years, the use of meta tags have become widely debated, with many abandoning them because they don’t have a measurable affect in search engine placement. While this is true, meta tags don’t factor into how the search engines will rank your site, they still have an extremely useful function and if you aren’t using them to their full potential, you’re seriously hampering the effectiveness of your website. Meta tags control the information that’s listed about your site on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and it’s crucial to optimize it to generate traffic and conversions. Following are examinations of the most useful meta tags and how they can boost your business’s reputation.

Title Tags

Title tags define what your business is about, so you definitely don’t want to leave it blank. If you do, Google will create one for you and do you really want a third party defining your company for you? Of course not, so don’t overlook this crucial step. When choosing a title, make the most of the ~60 characters that are available to you by listing your organization’s name and a descriptive tag line. You will want to create a different title tag for each individual page within your website by acting as though you are placing an ad for each particular page. Take some time to come up with copy that will entice users to click through by thinking of what would lead you to be interested. This process sounds very time consuming, but it only takes a few seconds if you do them as you create the pages.

Description Tags

These tags generate the description that shows up underneath your website’s title on the SERPs. Again, while Google has acknowledged they don’t use this information for ranking purposes, it’s still very important to include it. This is your chance to list more in-depth information about your company and to represent your brand so people will be interested in learning more. Don’t merely repeat what you put in your title tag; instead, enhance your title, be as descriptive as possible and don’t waste this precious real estate with quotes, dashes or other non-alphanumeric characters. If you don’t create a description tag yourself, a random snippet of text will be chosen from your site by the search engine and it may not always make sense or be relevant.

When you take time to optimize your meta tags, you are signaling to those who come across your website that you’re a business that wants to be taken seriously and cares about its customers. While it’s desirable to be ranked well in the search engines, you need to keep in mind it’s actual human visitors, not search engine spiders, who will be buying your product!

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