YOUR TITLE TAG
The title tag is really one of the most important single things
you can work on for improving your website's search engine results.
Go to Google and make a search for any particular keyword. If you
look at the top ten entries in that search you will see that all
of them have this key word in the title, sometimes more than once.
So when writing your title tag, it is helpful to have your keywords
included in the title tag, and not only in the tag, near the beginning
of the title.
Suppose that your company is the Acme Manufacturing Company and
you are selling electric widgets and you are located in California.
What should your title tag be? Most people would opt for the name
of their company as the first word of the title. It makes sense,
in that it looks good in the blue strip at the top of the browser,
but it doesn't necessarily help you to get a good ranking in search
results for your keywords "electric widgets, California".
The first few words of your title tag are very important. People
may not be searching for Acme Manufacturing, unless it is a very
important brand, but they are searching for electric widgets, and
they may not want to purchase it from someone in New York, especially
if it is not a mail-order type item.
In addition, if there are tons of widget companies, it will be difficult
to get to the top of the heap in a search simply for the term "widgets".
But if it is "widgets, California", then you will have
a good chance of getting a high ranking if you put the keyword California
prominently in the title. So, if you are in a very competitive category
and your customers don't already know about you, then you might
consider a title tag like this "Electric widgets from Acme
Manufacturing of California" or even better "Electric
Widgets in California produced by Acme Manufacturing."
Some guidelines for the title tag suggest that this tag be limited
to 70-80 characters including spaces. (I confess to have used more
on several occasions.)
The next tag that has to be done is the Description tag. Many search
engines use the description tag as a way to tell the searchers what
the page is about. On MSN, for example, the description of the site
shown underneath the title is the description that has been placed
in the description tag.
The description tag is thus important in two respects: the search
engine robot searches it for keywords to "get an idea"
of what the page is about, and this tag will be seen by the surfers
as they scroll down through the search results. If it is an interesting
and well-written description then they may click through to visit
the site. So this tag should be well written but also contain the
important keywords that you wish to highlight.
Going back to our example of Acme Manufacturing. We could make a
description tag that reads as follows: "Acme Manufacturing
is the largest producer of electric widgets in California, providing
round the clock service and warranties on all products." This
description contains the keywords again and also says something
about the company.
Some guidelines for description length recommend a maximum length
of 250 characters. Once again there is no precision about this,
but it is good to be cautious until you are already entered into
a search engine's index.
META KEYWORDS TAG
The last of the important meta tags relevant to search engine optimization
is the keywords tag. In this tag you have a chance to list your
important keywords, but this time they do not have to be in a coherent
phrase as in the Title and Description. Put your important keywords
near the beginning. Make sure that all the keywords used in the
title and the description tags are again listed. On top of that,
add prominent keywords, especially those that appear in the actual
text of the page you are optimizing. For the Acme Manufacturing
company we could have these keywords: "widgets, widget, electric
widgets, California, widgets in California, Acme Manufacturing,
service, warranty, warranties."
Many pundits advise against excessive repetition of any single keyword
even if they appear in different phrases separated by commas. Once
again the guidelines vary and are not precise but it would be better
to be conservative at first. How big should the keywords section
be? 800-1000 characters is the estimate provided by some search
engines and commentators alike.
The thing to remember about meta tags is that they are just one
part of search engine optimization. If your text is keyword rich
and your page structure allows the search engines to get to this
text easily and if, on top of this, you have crafted your meta tags
well, then you have an excellent chance of getting the search engine
positioning results that you are aiming for.