Internet Marketing Tips: Optimizing Meta Tags

Meta Tags are pieces of code used in the creation of a web page that let the Search Engines know what your page is all about. You don’t see this code on the visible page — they work behind the scenes.

For purposes of this Internet Marketing Tip, we are focusing on two Meta Tags – the Title Tag and the Meta Description. Strictly speaking, the Title Tag is not a pure Meta Tag, but it operates that way.

Here’s how the Title and Description Tags look for this page:

<title>Internet Marketing Tips – How to Optimize Your Meta Tags</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”These easy Internet Marketing Tips show you how to build Meta Tags and why they matter. Learn the how and why behind this Internet Marketing Tip.” />

You can see the title tag at the top of your browser window — check it out.

Meta Tags represent a great opportunity to improve your page’s ranking for your targeted keyword phrase. That’s because all of the major Search Engines factor them into their ranking algorithm to varying degrees. The Title is particularly important.

They also perform a very important Advertising function. They’re used by Search Engines to form the snippets of information displayed about your web page. This means  they effectively perform as a free Ad that motivates searchers to click through to your web page… or not. Check these examples out to see the difference:

Internet Marketing Tips - Meta Tag - Good Example

Search Engine Snippet - BAD Example of Meta Tag Leverage

Internet Marketing Tips - Good Meta Tag Example

Search Engine Snippet - GOOD Example of Meta Tag Leverage

So, we want to optimize Meta Tags for both Search Engine Ranking and Click Thru to your site. Now that you see what’s to gain from paying attention to these – let’s go over HOW to build them for maximum value.

Internet Marketing Tips for Meta Tags:

  1. Make sure to identify a keyword phrase to target for ranking purposes on your web page. Check Internet Marketing Best Practices: Smart Keyword Marketing for insight.
  2. The Title should be no more than 60 characters to ensure that the entire message you want to convey is displayed in the snippet before the Search Engines cut it off mid-thought. Characters mean any space — punctuation, letters and spaces in between words.
  3. The Title should have your targeted keyword phrase it in — earlier in the tag is better.
  4. The Meta Description should have no more than 150 characters to ensure that the entire message you want to convey is displayed in the snippet before you get cut off mid-thought.
  5. Include your targeted keyword phrase in the Meta Description at least once. Try to get your keyword phrase in the front part of the tag; if you have the possibility to add it or a variation of it again, aim for the last part.
  6. Try to include a benefit or gain that the searcher might realize if they click through to your web page; then deliver.
  7. Questions are effective ways to draw interest to your snippet.
  8. Ideally the Title & Meta Description will motivate searchers to click through to your web page. Create attention-getting and compelling tags and you can actually get more clicks to your web page than less enticing listings that rank higher than your snippet.
  9. Don’t sacrifice a well-written Meta Tag for the sake of inserting keyword phrases. You’ll  lose the free Advertising value they provide for the sake of a small boost to your ranking — and what will you gain if it doesn’t entice visitors?
  10. Not all pages on your website need to have Meta Tags.  If you aren’t trying to rank for any keywords on a given web page or care how they may present in snippets — don’t waste your time.
  11. Make sure that all of your pages have unique Meta Tags. Google’s Webmaster Tools is a handy free tool to easily help you identify any duplicates. Webmaster Tools provides a lot of other valuable information about your site as well. Did I mention that it’s FREE?
  12. Make sure the content of your Meta Tags reflect what is on the page — no bait and switch!

The character count limit varies among the Search Engines and can even vary within a given Search Engine based on different factors they hold secret. If you follow the guidance above, you should be within any of their cutoff points.

The world will not come to a screeching halt if you don’t create your own Meta Tags or get them right. If you don’t do it, the Search Engine’s will “grab” some content from your web page to use in the snippet; you almost always could do better. Yet proactively crafting your Meta Tags with thoughtful regard will enable you to take every advantage possible into your control.

The potential ranking assistance this provides represents but one element  of the super-secret ranking algorithms the top three Search Engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo!) use to determine ranking. Google alone is believed to use over 172 factors! Yet, again, intelligent use of this provides a possible advantage that beats not doing it.

Most of your competitors do not do this right. Years of analyzing the Meta Tags of our clients’ competitors show an overwhelming story of neglect, ignorance or both. Review your competitors’ Meta Tags and see whether you can build a competitive advantage by how your snippets display and work compared to your competitors.

If this all sounds a bit onerous, try to remember the word: FREE. The next word to remember is: CONTROL. With a bit of practice, the art and science of developing effective Meta Tags becomes second nature — and dare I say, fun?

Keep these Internet Marketing Tips for Meta Tags handy and give it a whirl. You’ll become really adept with a little practice.