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Category: Meta Description (page 1 of 2)

Constantly Changing SEO

When search marketing began in the mid-1990s, manual submission, the meta keywords tag, and keyword stuffing were all regular parts of the tactics necessary to rank well. In 2004, link bombing with anchor text, buying hordes of links from automated blog comment spam injectors, and the construction of inter-linking farms of websites could all be leveraged for traffic. In 2011, social media marketing and vertical search inclusion are mainstream methods for conducting search engine optimization. The search engines have refined their algorithms along with this evolution, so many of the tactics that worked in 2004 can hurt your SEO today.

The future is uncertain, but in the world of search, change is a constant. For this reason, search marketing will continue to be a priority for those who wish to remain competitive on the web.

Some have claimed that SEO is dead, or that SEO amounts to spam. As we see it, there’s no need for a defense other than simple logic: websites compete for attention and placement in the search engines, and those with the knowledge and experience to improve their website’s ranking will receive the benefits of increased traffic and visibility.

Meta Description

The meta description tag exists as a short description of a page’s content.

Search engines do not use the keywords or phrases in this tag for rankings, but meta descriptions are the primary source for the snippet of text displayed beneath a listing in the results.

The meta description tag serves the function of advertising copy, drawing readers to your site from the results. It is an extremely important part of search marketing. Crafting a readable, compelling description using important keywords (notice how Google bolds the searched keywords in the description) can draw a much higher click-through rate of searchers to your page.

Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally will cut snippets longer than 160 characters, so it’s generally wise to stay within in these limits.

In the absence of meta descriptions, search engines will create the search snippet from other elements of the page. For pages that target multiple keywords and topics, this is a perfectly valid tactic.

Not as important meta tags

Meta Keywords: The meta keywords tag had value at one time, but is no longer valuable or important to search engine optimization. For more on the history and a full account of why meta keywords has fallen into disuse, read Meta Keywords Tag 101 from SearchEngineLand.

Meta Refresh, Meta Revisit-after, Meta Content-type, and others: Although these tags can have uses for search engine optimization, they are less critical to the process, and so we’ll leave it to Google’s Search Console Help to discuss in greater detail.

Search Engine Tools

Geographic Target – If a given site targets users in a particular location, webmasters can provide Google with information that will help determine how that site appears in its country-specific search results, and also improve Google search results for geographic queries.

Preferred Domain – The preferred domain is the one that a webmaster would like used to index their site’s pages. If a webmaster specifies a preferred domain as www.example.com and Google finds a link to that site that is formatted as example.com, Google will treat that link as if it were pointing at www.example.com.

URL Parameters – You can indicate to Google information about each parameter on your site, such as “sort=price” and “sessionid=2“. This helps Google crawl your site more efficiently.

Crawl Rate – The crawl rate affects the speed (but not the frequency) of Googlebot’s requests during the crawl process.

Malware – Google will inform you if it has found any malware on your site. Malware creates a bad user experience, and hurts your rankings.

Crawl Errors – If Googlebot encounters significant errors while crawling your site, such as 404s, it will report these.

HTML Suggestions – Google looks for search engine-unfriendly HTML elements such as issues with meta descriptions and title tags.

Meta Tags Make Up

Meta tags were originally intended as a proxy for information about a website’s content. Several of the basic meta tags are listed below, along with a description of their use.

Meta Robots

The Meta Robots tag can be used to control search engine crawler activity (for all of the major engines) on a per-page level. There are several ways to use Meta Robots to control how search engines treat a page:

  • index/noindex tells the engines whether the page should be crawled and kept in the engines’ index for retrieval. If you opt to use “noindex,” the page will be excluded from the index. By default, search engines assume they can index all pages, so using the “index” value is generally unnecessary.
  • follow/nofollow tells the engines whether links on the page should be crawled. If you elect to employ “nofollow,” the engines will disregard the links on the page for discovery, ranking purposes, or both. By default, all pages are assumed to have the “follow” attribute.
    Example: <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
  • noarchive is used to restrict search engines from saving a cached copy of the page. By default, the engines will maintain visible copies of all pages they have indexed, accessible to searchers through the cached link in the search results.
  • nosnippet informs the engines that they should refrain from displaying a descriptive block of text next to the page’s title and URL in the search results.
  • noodp/noydir are specialized tags telling the engines not to grab a descriptive snippet about a page from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) or the Yahoo! Directory for display in the search results.

The X-Robots-Tag HTTP header directive also accomplishes these same objectives. This technique works especially well for content within non-HTML files, like images.

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