Meta Tags ? An Introduction

A long, long time ago? In a galaxy far, far away?meta tags were the key component to search engine rankings. Okay, it was about 2 years ago, but that's a long time in the Internet galaxy. Although still relevant, the evil empire?er, Darth Google, has led a movement by the search engines to de-emphasize their importance. Despite this effort, meta tags are still important. They represent the only method for a site owner to exert some control over how pages are listed in search engine results.

What The Heck Is A Meta Tag?

Meta tags are html code blocks that "tell" a search engine what a particular site page is about. Meta tags are not visible on the pages of your site. You can, however, see them for most sites by clicking the "view" and then "source" tab on the Explorer Browser.

Meta tags can be difficult to explain, so let's take a look at one of our client's sites. is listed in the number 1 position on Yahoo and MSN if you do a search for "business tax articles." The specific page is:

The meta tags for this page are:

Business Tax Articles

The meta title is a critical factor in controlling where your site is listed in search engines. The title should consist of the keywords being emphasized on the page. In this case, we are trying to come up under searches for "business tax articles". Since the page actually lists such articles, the meta tag is simply "business tax articles".

Importantly, the meta title will be underlined in the search results. A search for business tax articles on Yahoo finds our client in the number 1 position. The link looks like this:

BUSINESS TAX ARTICLES [underlined] Business tax articles, IRS news and more. Turn overlooked deductions and credits into business tax refunds at ... BUSINESS TAX ARTICLES. Business tax articles are added every week, so make sure to bookmark this page ...

Meta Description Tag

The meta description tag appears under the title in the search engine results. Returning to our previous example, the meta description is the text that is not underlined. Essentially, meta descriptions expand on the meta title and give the search engine more keywords to consider.

One of the aggravating things about search engines is how they use meta descriptions. Most pick only certain sections of your description. When your link appears in the search results, the description may make little if any sense. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about it.

Meta Keywords

Historically, meta keywords were the single most important factor to getting your site ranked under the correct keywords. How times have changed. Google doesn't even look at them, while MSN and Yahoo give them little value. All and all, they are fairly unimportant, but you should still add them to your meta tags. If nothing else, it forces you to focus on the keywords you should have on the page.

In closing, every page of your site should have at least a meta title and description. Although their value has diminished, they are still an important factor in the search engine optimization process.

Halstatt Pires is with - an Internet marketing and advertising company comprised of a search engine optimization specialist providing meta tag optimization services and Internet marketing consultant providing internet marketing solutions through integrated design and programming services.

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