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What are meta tags?

I feel compelled to write a whole article on meta tags as they are one of the most commonly known but least understood element of websites by people who know a little about websites.

I have talked about meta tags on several articles about search engine optimisation because it is a commonly held myth that if you know how to do meta tags, you can end up on page 1 of Google. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, meta tags are important and here I will describe why this is the case.

What is a meta tag?

Websites are written using a coding system called HTML. This is a way of marking up information that is displayed to you on the web page. In addition, you can add information to your web page code that although not visible to the user in their browser, is visible to other programs, the most notable of which are search engine spider programs. They can read this information (if they wish) and make use of it.

Not useful - the keywords meta tag

The keywords meta tag is a part of the web page's code that allows you to record a list of keywords and key phrases that you feel are important to that page. It was once heavily used by search engines to allow them to discover the content of a web page without having to read through all of the text contained within it.

Whilst this was true several years ago, the search engines have advanced substantially and now only the visible text on a web page carries any weight. Maybe a few less important search engines read this tag but none of the important search engines such as Google or Yahoo does.

Therefore, feel free to ignore this tag or at the most, add some relevant key phrases but spend as little time as possible doing so as its unimportance cannot be over-emphasised.

Very useful - the description meta tag

This is a place where you can briefly describe the contents of your web page. The search engines display this description in the results pages. So this is your opportunity to sell the page to potential visitors by attracting them to the page and informing them what to expect.

This is very useful and without it, the search engines might display some text that is not at all helpful.

This will not help boost your position in the results pages but it is very important as it is your opportunity to get across the right message to your customer.

How do I update meta tags?

The AB Publish control panel allows you to update both of these meta tags in the page settings section of the control panel. There is also an overall kewords meta tag section that allows you to list all the key phrases common to all pages on your website.

Thu 7 July 2011 17:51:21

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