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Here's a list of useful META tags you can use.
name="keywords" content="keywords go here"
This tag is a must. It lets you specify keywords people might use when looking for your site. Enter as many as you can think of, but don't repeat each word more than once.
name="description" content="description goes here"
Here you can enter a short description for your site. Avoid using phrases like "the best" .. Keep the description short, but to the point. Usually, this is what a person will see as the title when using a search engine.
http-equiv="expires" content="expiration date (Example: Mon, 24 Dec 2001 23:00:00 MST)"
If you want to make sure that the visitor gets the latest version of your page, enter an expiration date in the past. Or, simply enter the date when the page will become outdated.
This tag tells IE not to cache the page.
name="robots" content="instructions go here"
This tag tells a SE spider whether to index a page or not (index/noindex), and whether to follow links on the page or not (follow/nofollow). You can use these in any combination you want.
- Default value. Page will be indexed, and links on the page will be followed.
- Page will be indexed, but any links on the page will not be followed.
- Page will not be indexed, but links on the page will be followed.
- Page will not be indexed, and links on the page will not be followed.
name="author" content="author's or company's name"
Pretty self explanatory. Information about who is the author goes here. This information will for example be showed in the page info for Mozilla users.
name="copyright" content="copyright information"
Pretty self explanatory as well. The proper copyright information starts with the word 'Copyright' followed by the copyright symbol, the year(s) you claim copyright, and your name (or company). Example:
Copyright © 1998-2002, DrDoc Systems
Is your site using a certain character set? Well, here you can specify which character map to use. As long as you are using only basic latin characters (a-z, no funky symbols that can't be typed on a standard keyboard), this tag can be omitted. But if you are using certain character entities (like àçëíðñø) you should use this tag to ensure that they will be displayed properly.
What are they good for then? presenting nice, clickable descriptions.... which is an important part of the other half of the equation.... turning your rank into cash. The other thing they are good for is making SEOs feel better about themselves that they have done everything possible for a client's site.... they put the sprinkles on the cake...in other words, the chances that they may move you up or down a spot or two are possible, but the chances of your site getting catapulted to the top, based on metas alone, are about zero.
So should you use them? Sure. Why not? but keep them in perspective...they are neutral most of the time, and they can help you on occasion.... my feeling is the less competitive the terms, the more they will help...
....but just so you know, if you come across any of my sites, and all you have in your pocket are some metas, I'll eat your lunch:)
...something I didnt see people putting forward is the fact the meta tags should more likely match the body text of external pages that link to your site.
After all I think I'm pretty handsome with 'check me out' written on my tee-shirt, but it the bodies of the googley-eyed chicks that surround me that provide the proof.
I'm lying of course, being a sad lonely progger...but on MY pages I can 'suggest' what I like :)
Does that make any sense at all? Go on ...Say Im wrong...
my personal hint! is add: and, or, not, + and - to your keywords
i guess this way you have most engines covered, you could always submit "index-x" pages to local search engines in another language to avoid lorry and truck problems
Using stop words can be a viable strategy if you are looking for traffic on exact technical phrases that use stop words (e.g "Chip On Board"). This may be especially true when the target market for your pages is technical and may use a lot of quoted "exact phrase" searches to zero in.
Now, it would sure be nice to know how the spiders use the data!
Lets hope we don't see a bunch of titles and descriptions popping up in the SERP's that read like this...
Blue Widgets or Red Widgets and California and Los Angeles or Century City.
Secondly, if you optimize for exact phrase matching, words like "and" and "a" become very important in titles and anchors.
A search on Google for "pass football" sans quotes returns different results than "pass a football" sans quotes even though Google reminds you that "a" is a very common word and wasn't included in the search.
So... for exact phrases I typically add those "filter" words to create a natural phrase in the meta. Doesn't seem to matter much to Google but removing those "filter" words from metas seems counter productive to exact phrase matching.
Personally, I think if you have good titles, anchors, headers and body content you can dispense with the metas completely.
If something blows up, I'll be sure to let you know.
I will use them in titles and descriptions of course as they are naturally occuring. Never even thought about adding them in with the keywords. But then again, I haven't targeted that tag in quite some time. Maybe its time to revisit! ;)
(edited by: pageoneresults at 8:08 pm (utc) on May 30, 2002)
I don't get it... these are Boolean operators, not words of content. If people are going to be searching a lot for an exact phrase match, then build your page to deliver the exact phrase. How many people actually search for "red widgets" as "red AND widgets" anyway?
Also, since it's likely that the meta keywords tag isn't going to come into effect until that content is found nowhere else on the Web, including these operators in the meta keywords tags is not likely to produce any effect.
I'd spend my time building good pages.
(edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:26 pm (utc) on May 30, 2002)
They don't. But they search for "cigars and cutters" and "humidors and hygrometers" and "software for macs" yep, "for" is a filter word too, and they look for "information on cryptography" and "on" is another filter word.
Everyone is very careful to mention using the keyphrase in titles, headers, anchors and body, so if you have a page entitled Pass Algrebra and Trig Tests why would you leave "and" out of the meta keyword and description phrase? ;)
Those are all listed at the W3C.
No, I don't think they are. Searching w3.org for "document classification", "document rights", "document type" "document rating", "Copywritten work" and "Safe for kids" didn't turn up anything about those particular meta tags.
I've been following the W3C for a long time, and to the best of my knowledge, they've never taken meta tags that seriously as metadata (the format is suboptimal for computer-parsing), especially when it comes to content ratings. They go for XML, RDF, and third-party rating services.
Unless somebody can show me an actual citation for those NAME values, I'm classifying these particular tags as Voodoo Tech Support (at best) or a waste of time (at worst).
Because I prioritize.... I leave many words that might be searched out of the meta keywords tag. As pageoneresults suggests, I do use them in the title, description, and on the page as they might naturally occur.
There are a lot of words that people will search for that I figure the page will pick up if I've optimized well for my main terms. Even if the meta keywords tag had the magic powers that some here are ascribing to it, if you consider how the tag might be viewed by the engines, putting anything but one's most important targets into the tag would only dilute the tag's effectiveness.
>>if you consider how the tag might be viewed by the engines
That's exactly what was done. If words like "and" and "for" are filtered out it doesn't seem likely that the addition of those words would dilute the effectiveness of the tag. If they are filtered out of the metas they are more than likely filtered out of the body text as well.
What I'm seeing with Google and some of the other engines is a shift in the serps when words like "and" and "an" are used as a query.
Since no one can say for certain what is being filtered out or how that filtering influences the serps a little experimentation is healthy. Since I don't believe in the magical meta tag I certainly can't see it as harmful.
Tossing an unlikely search term into the fray and basing the unlikelihood of a search on that phrase didn't prop up your argument though. Since searches are based on phrases, adding a word that allows for the creation of a natural phrase rather than a litany of keywords seems logical.
I fully agree with spending time on building quality pages but I also recommend exploring all the options. If metas come back into vogue, who can say how the engines will look at them the second time around? It didn't take long for people to recognize that "click here" isn't exactly good anchor text, but they didn't find out by constantly using "click here" in anchors.
If "red green apples" ranks differently than "red and green apples" and you have "Red and Green Apples" as your title, in your header, in your body content and in anchors pointing to the page, how would the addition of "and" in the meta keyword tag dilute the effectiveness of the tag?
I also have seen the results of "natural phrases." I have one page in particular that pulls traffic from the search term "(keyword1) in (keyword2)(keyword3)" The term is present in the title, description and keyword meta, as well as used as a prominent heading. The results prove themselves out: while (keyword1) in (keyword2) return the same results as (keyword1) and (keyword2), enclosing the search term in quotes "(keyword1) in (keyword2)" brings and entirely different set of results.
So yes, I'll continue to use meta tags, at least the basics:
name="description" content="description goes here"
name="keywords" content="keywords go here"
1. Some local search engines that use meta-keywords can still cover up to 30% of the local search market in some countries (however small they may be).
2. For directory listings; some directories automatically "extract" your metatag keywords for their internal search requirements.
3. Give your unexperienced competitor the wrong idea for ranking high in Google.
digitalghost - Forgive me if my response was too vehement, but I'm with JayC in having a "knee-jerk reaction" against the emphasis on meta tags... and I am seeing a fair number of posts that may make newbies visiting the board think that meta keywords are more important than they are. I cannot tell you how many people I encounter who think that "doing keywords and submitting" is all there is to SEO.
>>I've also stated that metas could be dispensed with altogether.<<
Yes, I think we're basically in agreement about them, and you've said some things about the length of the tag, etc, that needed to be said.
>>If "red green apples" ranks differently than "red and green apples" and you have "Red and Green Apples" as your title, in your header, in your body content and in anchors pointing to the page, how would the addition of "and" in the meta keyword tag dilute the effectiveness of the tag?<<
To really answer all the if/then combinations in your question would take a lot of time... and my main point is that if the tag isn't that effective anyway, worrying about it a lot dilutes my effectiveness.
I just did some quick test searches on Google, based on one of your examples.
For cigars and cutters (default all-the-words), Google returned, "The "AND" operator is unnecessary -- we include all search terms by default," followed by 18,300 results.
For "cigars and cutters" (exact phrase search), Google displayed "Results 1 - 3 of about 73."
So, obviously you'd want to do some testing on this one, or whatever... I'm sure you weren't trying to be precise... before you took the trouble of targeting it as an exact phrase.
At the other extreme of an exact phrase match, I tried Cheech and Chong.
For Cheech and Chong (default all-the-words), Google returned 45,600 results.
For "Cheech and Chong" (exact phrase search), there were 20,500 results returned.
The top 10 results for both searches were exactly the same. I glanced at AltaVista, where the top 10 results differed a bit.
Most target phrases will lie somewhere in between these extremes, and if I think they need to be targeted as an exact phrase match, I do some research.
I'd probably treat the phrase "Cheech and Chong" as if it were one word, and chances are I'd put the "and" in the meta keywords. For most else, frankly, it doesn't matter. On page factors and incoming links are much more important.
If I used my keywords tag also for theming, as I describe in one of my posts I link to above, the "and" might be taking up some real estate I might like to save for a more critical word. In general, I don't repeat my target words in my meta keywords to achieve all possible exact phrase matches.
In all the years I've been on the web, I think I've only seen one example of a term being found because it was in the meta keywords tag but not on the page... some obscure Greek mythological figure. The only reason I'm spending all this energy talking about it is because the misplaced reliance on this area gives SEO a bad name.
As to HoMeR's note...
>>i guess you have made more pages than your own homepage, but dont you think if you used meta's on that page it would rank higher on (example) google<<
HoMeR - I see that in your profile you haven't linked to one of your optimized pages either. ;) The link to my "homepage" is intended to give folks here some background about me apart from SEO. If I were to revisit that site and optimize it, there are a whole bunch of things I'd do to it before I'd touch the meta keywords tags.
As for Google, it definitely does use the title tag, which I usually don't lump with the meta tags. Google generally does not, though, use the meta description or meta keywords tag. There has been some discussion on the board about whether Google will look at these tags if the page is otherwise devoid of content.
I think I have seen Google return the meta description when there was nothing else on the page. To me, this suggests that Google probably does index the description tag, and maybe the keywords tag, too... and that they're probably last in line, after all other factors, in importance.
A PS to my post above, just to clarify an important point... I could have "red and green apples" as title, in my header, etc, but still be targeting "red apples" and "green apples," in which case the "and" is completely superfluous.