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Other important META tags – SEO tutorial
The <TITLE> tag covered in the previous section, although the most important, is not the only tag that needs consideration.
The <description> tag: The description tag is normally found directly underneath the <title> tag and is for providing a description on what the page is about. While not always the case, this description is often the text that is found underneath the title when search results are shown and so serve two purposes. The first is the most obvious- the person looking at the search results is better informed as to whether to visit the page or not. This aspect is often overlooked but it plays an important role in how many visitors actually visit the site. If you were in third place on the search results for a particular phrase, the searcher may look down and ignore the first two since they do not look like what they are looking for; if your page has a good title and description that is relevant to the search term then you are more likely to be clicked. The second reason is that search engines regard the contents of this tag as a good way to ascertain what your page is about making a well constructed description an important step to making it clear to the spiders as to the subject of the page. Looking at the source code of this page (as we did in the title tag section) you will see this page’s description tag.
The description should be closely related to the title tag but not exactly the same. It can be more wordy but also contain the same target phrase for the page. The camping site that we have been using as an example has the first page target phrase as “holidays in the iow” so the description tag could be something like “Come on a camping holiday to the Isle of staying at Adam’s campsite”. It is important that the description will read naturally to a human as well as a computer.
The <keywords> tag: Long ago, when the internet was in its infancy, people could put keywords into this tag to help the search engines. It was actually a good idea but since no humans ever saw this it was often abused with stuffing non-relevant keywords and spamming (in that case spam means repeating keywords again and again). For this reason it is ignored by nearly all search engines and is no longer worth including. In fact it can even do some harm for the following reason. A spider will only log the occurrence of a word or phrase a certain number of times before it starts to ignore it. Since it is important for your keyword phrases to be found in the body of the page (see below) and the keyword tag carries no weight at all you can use one count of the phrase in the keyword making an occurrence in the body get ignored. For example, suppose the spider will only note a phrase three times. It finds “Isle of Wight camping” in the title tag (1), it finds the phrase in the description tag (2) and it finds it in the keywords tag (3), all other occurrences will be ignored (or carry less weighting). In actual fact, you have the phrase in the first line of the page text which is far more important than the keywords tag but you have used up all of your quota for that phrase. By leaving the keywords tag out, the spider will happily count the third occurrence as the first line of the page giving more relevance of that phrase to the page. This is an over simplistic view of the spider algorithm but the principle is the same.
The <h1> tag: This is not actually a meta tag but it makes sense to mention it here. The <h1> tag is meant to be the main visible title of the page (header 1). It will make the text larger and bolder than normal text (in the absense of styles that tell it to do otherwise). With many pages designed around CCS (cascading style sheets), tags like this have become unnecessary and are often omitted but they still play an important role for the spiders. For this reason, you should try to include the first line of the text content of a page with an H1 tag even if you change the look of the text with a style sheet setting. You will notice that this page uses style sheets and the blue title on each page does not require a tag as it has its own style (which dictates how it looks). Regardless, it still has the H1 tag wrapped around it so that the spider knows that this is the title. There are also tags for H2, H3 etc. which can be used if you have a minor phrase that you wish to add some importance to but they are not normally necessary.
Next section: Link building for search engine optimisation
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