Sunday, July 06, 2008

Meta Keywords and Data for Web Sites

Many SEO companies still talk a lot about Meta Keywords and their importance in search engine placement, but they are largely irrelevant now. Meta Keywords are terms that are added to a part of a web page that the viewer does not see. This part is called the HEAD, the part the viewer sees is called the BODY, this is where all the text and images are. In the early days of the web, Meta Keywords were a great and easy way for a search engine to know what the page was about. If you had a web page about green widgets, all you had to do was add 'green widgets' as a Meta Keyword on your page and the search engines could categorize you and serve your site up anytime a person searched for green widgets.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous 'web masters' started adding popular terms to their list of Meta Keywords to attract more visitors. Because of this, modern search engines nearly ignore Meta Keywords. So, SEO specialists who are hawking Meta Keywords as some kind of magic bullet are just plain full of it.

But, I still find value in Meta Keywords because if you focus on the few terms that make up any given web page you are trying to make, then you are more likely to create clearer, more relevant text for that page. I've used the idea of Meta Keywords to help clients focus on the main point of the page and edit unnecessary clutter while adding valuable content and focus. This helps not only the person viewing the page, but also helps the search engines to better index the page.
Other common types of Meta Data are Description and Title. The Meta Title is what shows up in the browser title bar, see image. The Description is a concise description of what is on that page and sometimes will be displayed on the search engine results page.

These three forms of Meta Data: Keywords, Title, and Description have some value and should be used, but keep it concise, don't use more then a handful of Keywords, keep the Description down to one sentence, and the title should be short and sweet.

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