Understanding Meta Tags
There seems to be two camps of people when it comes to websites – those who are using them and building their skills with them and those who are spooked by them – or rather the technology – and are missing out on the business opportunities websites can provide.
I want to take away some of the spookiness of the technology by explaining some of the terms. So this article is about the “meta tags” of websites. Here we’ll go through 5 important meta tags:
1. Title – name of the page
2. Key words – the words people search for your website by
3. Locations – the names of the locations important to your business
4. Description – the info shown in search results
5. Distribution – global or local
Meta tags are the behind the scenes info search directories and engines use to select websites to show as results.
So here we’ll go through the top five meta tags you need for your website and give examples of content.
1. The title meta tag is the title given to the individual page. So for your home page the title meta tag would have the name of your website and a little description, eg. Creatively Belle – the Home of Beautiful Handcrafted Jewellery!
In your title meta tag you can include words that people could put in the search engine to find useful sites (hopefully you!). These words are called “key words” – but more on that soon.
2. Key Words are crucial for search directories and engines as they match the words visitors type in against the key words list provided in website pages.
When they find a good match they display the website name, address and description (more on description below).
Key words have their own specific meta tag but are also used through out the website – in the title meta tag, alternative text fields for images, through out the site in the text and in other meta tags.
It is crucial NOT to abuse the use of key words – not to fill a page with key words which are hidden from view (eg. white text on white background) – as this can result in the website being banned by search engines and directories.
It is very important to play by the rules. Each directory and search engine has its own rules but by and large they are fairly similar.
3. The Locations meta tag captures the names of the places where you do business or are of interest. For example the Creatively Belle location meta tag includes all our market locations – Kirribilli, Balmain, Bondi, Orange Grove, Mosman, and even Sydney. I might work from home but my locations are broader than that.
I know the location meta tag has worked for me because I’ve been told that when people have Googled Bondi markets Creatively Belle is returned in the search results. That is simply because I use the term Bondi in my locations meta tag and Bondi Markets is text within the site.
4. The Description meta tag is displayed on the search engine or directory page under the website name. This is important as it is the first impression your potential customer has of your site. So think from their point of view – what are they looking for and what is important to them – what key message do you want to communicate to meet this need?
I do find some results display actual words from the webpage the search has returned – usually when the decription meta tag hasn’t been used.
5. The Distribution meta tag refers to the access of the site – it doesn’t refer to where you ship (post) your goods to. Most often websites are for access from anywhere in the world. In this case the Distribution is set to Global.
This is simply an introduction to meta tags. My aim is to take the spookiness out of a term. I believe if something spooks you then you face up to it. I’ve found the easiest and most gentle way to face something that is scaring me is to shed light on it with information.
So if you want a website for your business and need to find out more about it all start doing your research. If you find anyone making you feel like an idiot then they are the idiot for not being able to communicate effectively – you certainly aren’t.
An information source I’ve found to be really useful for all aspects with building a website, including meta tags, is the Internet Marketing Centre’s course. The main reason I’ve found it useful are the detailed examples provided for customising for actual use.
Learning as much as you can about what is involved in having your own business website will save you money, time and effort. Finding good sources of information can be challenging but for me the two key sources of quality info have been the Internet Marketing Centre material and the useit.com website and associated books for website usability. But usability is another topic altogether – how easy or difficult it is to use a website. But more on that another time.
I hope this has been useful and good luck with your own websites!