How to write metatags to appear
high with Search Engines
Metatags (or meta tags) are pieces of html code built into a web page that tell search engines what the website is about. Your choice of metatags will influence how your site is described by a search engine and how highly it appears for different search terms. That said, they are only one of several factors, not a magic solution to appearing top. The 3 most important meta tags for search engines are Title, Description and Keywords.
When you have a site designed by 1 Website Designer as part of our search engine optimization process, we include, as standard in the design, the option of letting us write the metatags for you. You may prefer to write them yourselves (or at least write the Title and Description) yourself, as these are visible to your potential customers you will be addressing them directly with your message.
If you're creating your own website and are not sure how to enter the meta tags into your html code, they should go just below the <HEAD> tag and look something like this:
<TITLE>The title of your website</TITLE>
<meta name="keywords" content="a list, of keywords, separated, by commas">
<meta name="description" content="A description written as a normal sentence">
<meta name="language" content="FR">
The column to the right explains each of these metatags in more detail, with concrete advice on how to write them, how long they should be, etc. We've used an abstract artist in New York as an example.
Susan Olmetti is a New York abstract artist and our client. We optimized her site using the process described here and as you can see she now appears second out of almost 15 million search results for searches like ' New York abstract art'.
Metatags in detail
The 4 metatags, with an example of how to write them for an artist's website in New York and their recommended lengths, are:
Title: 3-15 words long and appears in bold in search results. It also appears at the very top of the screen when someone views a page. Each page can have a different title and it's a good idea if it does. Words should either not be repeated or be repeated once only ("artist" and "artists" for example would not count as a repetition) and it should be rich in keywords (The title, plus links going to a page are the most important things from a search engine's perspective in determining how high your page will appear in search results). It's best if each word in the title appears once or more in the text of the page.
Description: 15-30 words long and appears under the title in search results.
The Description metatag's primary purpose is that it compels someone reading it to click it - by succinctly describing your page in an interesting &/or informative fashion.
To save time, similar pages can have the same description, or you can create a unique one for each page. Google doesn't use the Description metatag to determine where your site will be placed in its search results, but it does display it so visitors know what the page is about. Some other search engines do use the description to determine how your page ranks, so it should therefore contain the most important keywords.
Search engines sometimes opt to display part of the text on the page instead of the Description, but the Description is the norm.
Keywords: 20-45 words long. In September 2009 Google declared that they no longer take the Keywords metatag into account - see Google no longer uses keywords Metatag, for the official announcement by Matt Cutts.
Yahoo, Bing and other search engines currently do use the Keywords tag, so it's still worth including it, but focus on the Title and Description.
This is invisible to standard uses, and is a series of comma separated words or short phrases, e.g. "abstract painter, abstacts, New York, New York artist, New York painter, painter, female, art, art in New York ...'
As a general guideline, do not repeat any phrase, but repeat each word 3 times. (so do not include e.g. "New York artist" more than once, but you could put "New York, artist, New York artist, artist in New York", ...
It's worth mentioning that search engines also look at the metatag titles that each page links to - so if lots of page in a site include "artist" in the Title and perhaps also in the Keywords, that site will appear higher for 'artist', however it's more important that the Title is relevant to the content of each individual page.
Language metatag: If your website is all in one language (e.g. English), then the main search engines will easily be able to identify which language it is in and therefore this metatag is not necessary. If however you have a website in two or more languages (e.g. French and English) it's best to include the appropriate tag on each page, so that search engines know which pages are in which language. Full information on using the language metatag.