Meta Tags – Mega Important

Without meta tags, your chances of appearing on relevant search listings are next to non-existent. Basically, it’s like getting all dressed up for an event, practicing your speech, and then staying home.

Go and ‘Google’ your company by name. Hopefully you find a listing for your website. The darker blue link is your page title and the lighter blue underneath  is your meta description. If your ‘Home’ page title is ‘Home’ and the name of your site, you are unlikely to ever be found by someone searching for your products or services.

Information About Your Information

Like many things website-related, it sounds more complicated than it is. Put simply, meta titles, descriptions and tags tell search engines who you are and what your site is about.  The challenge is finding a way to describe yourself in 60 characters or less. Meta tags aren’t the only thing you need to do to get search engines to notice you; but they are a basic fundamental of SEO (search engine optimization)

First Things First

Use relevant search words to describe your site and services, in order of their importance to a potential searcher. For example, a good ‘Home’ page title for a hair salon might be:  “Hair styling & spa in Toronto, ABC  Salon.”  For a page on the website describing Japanese hair-straightening treatments: “Japanese hair straightening treatments Toronto, ABC Salon.”

You have some license with grammar, but spelling matters greatly. Note that the company name above, ‘ABC’, is at the end of the page meta title. Unless your name is very well-known, people are unlikely to be searching for it by name. Instead place keywords or keyword phrases first, like ‘hair styling’, ‘spa’ ‘spa in Toronto’, etc.

Keywords

In one sense, keywords are less important these days. Thanks to spammers, search engines no longer rely on them as a guide to the website’s content. However, keywords that are repeated in the title tags, meta descriptions and content of a webpage do have SEO (search engine optimization) value and are worth putting in. If nothing else, developing a list of keywords gives you a base upon which to develop meta tags & SEO-friendly content.

Keywords are search words, so put yourself in the place of your target customer/audience. What are they typing into the search bar? Consider all the variations: For a hair salon, some good keyword / keyword phrases might be: “hair styling, women’s hair salon, Toronto hair salon, professional highlights, professional colour, bridal updos, etc”. You can put in as many keywords as you like (some say upwards of 800 characters, but what’s the point?).

Image ‘Tags’

Image alt attribute ‘tags’ are basically meta tags for images. They are important because without them, search engines (and screen readers for the visually impaired) read that image by their usually meaningless (and entirely unhelpful) file names.  ’Scan_13.jpg’  and  ’logo6.png’  aren’t going to be coming up on Google’s search results listings for images any time soon. For maximum visibility, create an image ‘tag’ for every picture and image on every page (or post) of your site, including graphics and your logo.

To learn how to insert meta tags into your site, click here.

Naomi Moscoe is a writer, editor, marketing consultant & content developer who gravitated to web development by client demand; only to discover she loved it. She works with a wide range of  businesses &  entrepreneurs and considers the education she’s gaining the best part of freelance. (Well, that and the hours)