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Meta Tag Order - Does It Matter?
meta tags, titles, desc., etc....

 3:05 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just wondering....

I recently noticed that the site currently ranking #1 for our best keywords has his meta tags like this:


<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=iso-8859-1" />
<meta name="Description" content="Leading provider of red widgets, blue widgets and green widgets" />
<meta name="keywords" content="red widgets blue widgets green widgets big widgets small widgets" />
<title>Widgets and Trinkets - WidgetMan.com </title>
<link href="styles.css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen" />

So, I attempted to replicate his meta structure, with the title residing below the desc. and keywords, and five days later (last night), our site is nowhere to be found!

Does anyone have an answer as to if Google cares what order they are in? It obviously isn't hurting the #1 guy, but we were only at #5 a day ago and now, we have vanished.

Any ideas?




 3:35 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I seriously doubt that the meta/title order has anything to do with your disappearance or the other guy's top ranking. I guess I'd run the page through a spider simulator to be sure you didn't mess up a quotation mark or something.


 3:38 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Simply a coincidence. Whatever happened to your rankings isn't related to the order in which you've placed your meta tags -- which play little role, if any, in ranking at Google anyway. As you speculated, the order obviously isn't hurting the other guy, so why would it hurt you?

By "nowhere to be found" do you mean you're not the index at all now, or are buried deep for a query for which you used to rank well? Try an advanced search like "site:example.com -asdf" (all pages in your domain that do not contain the word 'asdf') to find out what pages are indexed if you don't already know the answer to that.


 3:47 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Roger has a good point. Perhaps not a "coincidence" as I put it, but not anything directly related to the order of the meta tags. It's conceivable that through a typo or something you inadvertantly caused something to go wrong. A spider simulator like this one [searchengineworld.com] is a good idea.


 3:52 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

The weird thing is, when I did the site check that you provided above, our pages do appear. The weird thing is that our hompage's title that Google shows is from at least two months ago, and there is no cached version of it. I don't have the foggiest as to why they would be showing a two month old title tag when they've had a much more recent version as of a day ago.

This may be a possibility:

We just launched an aff. program through CJ, and I noticed when doing a search for a quote that is on our homepage that affiliates of ours (and competitors!) have taken content directly off of our site and used it in their creatives promoting our program. If a dup. content filter/penalty was tripped, what can be done to show that the content was taken from us and not vice-versa? Should I give it a few days and see what happens, or should I contact Google now before they drop all of our pages?

Note: Our site is still showing a PR7.

Thanks for all the help!


 4:09 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

A few years ago, I had a similar experience. I moved the title tag on some pages to right after the head tag and the titles for these pages reappeared. The ones that did not get the change did not have the title appear. So I changed them all and next cycle, their titles appeared. Weird but that was my experience.

I would rely on your own empirical experience.


 7:07 pm on Jun 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have an answer as to if Google cares what order they are in? It obviously isn't hurting the #1 guy, but we were only at #5 a day ago and now, we have vanished.

It doesn't even care if they exist at all :)


 8:31 pm on Jun 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Run your pages through the validator at [validator.w3.org ] -- I'll bet that you get a ton of errors related to the meta tags.

You have used a closing / on each one. That notation is not valid in an HTML document. It can only be used in XHTML. If you are using HTML then you must remove the closing / from each one.

Specifically the first un-nested / seen after <head> is interpreted as being </head><body> by the parser.


 8:33 pm on Jun 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Your document should begin with a !DOCTYPE (this tells the browser what sort of HTML is in the file) followed by the <html> and <head> tags:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

For your page to actually be valid you MUST declare the character encoding (lets the browser know whether to use A to Z letters (latin), or Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or Arabic script, or some other character set) used for the page, with something like:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

There are also other schemes such as UTF-8 and many others.

It is also a good idea to declare what human language the page is in, using:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="EN-GB">

The language and country codes come from ISO 4217 and ISO 3166. This is useful for online translation tools as well. Change the "en" and "gb" to whatever language and country you need.

You need a <title> element for the page:

<title> Your Title Here </title>

This is displayed at the top of the browser window, and stored as the name of the bookmark if someone bookmarks the page URL in their browser. Most importantly, it is the <title> tag that is indexed and displayed by search engines in the search results page (SERPs).

You need the meta description tag, as this is very important for search engines, and it is useful but not vital to have a meta keywords tag:

<meta name="Description" content=" Your Description Here. ">
<meta name="Keywords" content=" your, keyword, list, here ">

Most search engines do obey the robots meta tag. The default robots action is index, follow (index the page, follow all outbound links) so if you want something else (3 possibilities) then add the robots tag to the page in question. If you want to exclude whole directories then use the robots.txt file for this instead of marking every HTML file with the tag.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">

The last parts of your header should have your links to external style sheets and external javascript files:

Use this if the stylesheet is for all browsers:

<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" src="/path/file.css">

Use this for style sheet that you want to hide from older browsers, as older browsers often crash on seeing CSS:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Style-Type" content="text/css">
<style type="text/css"> @import url(/path/file.css); </style>

Use this for the javascript:

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src="/path/file.js"></script>

End the header with this:


and then continue with the body page code.

It is as simple as that.

Code within the page:

I use: <a href="somepage.html" title="some text here"></a> for links.

I use <img src="somefile.png" alt="some text"> for images.

Headings are done with <hx></hx> tags, properly used from <h1></h1> downwards.

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