Meta Tags

Most Web Masters whether they work on their own personal
web site or work on a fortune 500 company web site, are
constantly looking for ways to improve their ranking on
the major Internet Search Engines.  There appears to be no
system to ensuring a top ranking unless you buy it on the
GoTo search engine. Even so, there are many things a Web
Manager can do to significantly improve their position.
Last week I talked about how the Search Engines use
Meta Tags to gather information and rank Web Sites. This
week I will talk about some of the things you need to do
when setting up your Meta Tags and some of the things you
need to consider when composing the text on your page.

As I mentioned last week, the Page Title, Meta Description
and Meta Keyword tags are the most important. These tags
are placed between the <HEAD> tags at the top of the HTML

<title>Enter a page title</title>
<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Enter a page description">
<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Enter,search engine, meta tags ">


The following suggestions may be helpful when formatting
these tags.

1.  The title is similar to a book title but should be
more descriptive. It will be displayed at the top of the
Browser and with the link to your site from many Search
Engine lists. "Jim's Electric Train Hobby Shop".  You
should limit the title to 69 characters.

2.  The text from the Description Tag is often displayed
below the link in many search engine lists to describe the
contents of your page. It is also often used to categorize
your page. You should consequently try to format the
description with some of the most important keywords and
text from the body of your web page. "Electric Trains and
other Hobbies at Jim's Hobby Shop".

3.  Your Meta Keyword Tag should list all possible
combinations of keywords and phrases that may be used to
search for your site. You can be quite liberal here since
you have up to 2000 character that can be included. List
your keywords and phrases separated by commas and avoid
junk words like "Worlds greatest, best" etc. Use lots of
different combinations of your keywords including common
misspellings but do not repeat as this may be interpreted
as spamming and stop the keyword indexing. A good example
would be: "electric train sets,electric trains,train sets,
trains,trans,hobbies,hobby shop,toys,toy shop,games" etc.
Keep going through all possible combinations without
repeating yourself. Use the plural form of words when it
makes sense.

One of the most difficult dilemmas I face when it comes
time to compose a web site is deciding how to set up the
main page. The dilemma is whether to create a page that is
as esthetically pleasing and as innovative as possible or
to create a page that is going to be index better by the
majority of search engines.  If Search Engine positioning
is a higher priority, then you will need to set up a page
that includes a reasonable amount of well-chosen text.  
Most search engines use this text to help categorize and
rank the page. Lycos in particular, requires at least 75
words in order for your page to be indexed.

Here is another tip for those of you using CSS to
dynamically position elements on your Web Page. Many of
the search engines only look at the first 80 or more words
on the page. When CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are used,
the text positioned at the top of the page does not
necessarily need to be the text that is first read in the
HTML document. Add the text that you wish the search
engines to read first immediately following the Body Tag
but use CSS to position it at the most appropriate
location on the Web page. (In IMS products you can
accomplish this by moving the text Object to "The Back"
using the Arrange menu).

Most search engines will now test pages for spamming and
de-list them. Here are some things NOT to do:

1.  Keyword stuffing. Keywords that are overused by
repeating them too many times in the Meta Tags and text
2.  Page redirects. Most search engines do not like this.
If you must have one ensure that it has a reasonable
3.  Invisible text. Over use of hidden text or setting
text to the same color as the background so that it can be
indexed but not seen.
4.  Small Text. If the print can only be read by a lawyer
with a magnifying glass it will be incarcerated.

I do not personally like some of these restrictions since
they can influence web designers to create pages that are
designed more for the Search Engines than for the people
viewing them. But then maybe the ability to accommodate
both is the sign of a good web designer.

More about submitting your now correctly formatted site to
the search engines next week.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright
2000 Virtual Mechanics

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