The meta tags for "keywords" and "description"
are two of the keys to improve search engine placement or position. They are not keys on
all the search engines, two exceptions being the Excite and Lycos search engines.
Since the writing of this article Excite now uses the keywords meta
Matching the words in the users query to words in the title keywords and description
meta tags is how most of the major search engines determine placement or ranking of the
results. There are many other keys as well but in one way or another these three along
with repeating them in the text on the page are important keys on most engines.
Choosing keywords that will be used often for a query for a product/service or topic
and repeating the keywords several times in the text on the page results in higher
position. Notice it says ON not IN. If you can't see it
on the page it will or should penalize you for reasons stated often throughout these
articles on search engine placement, of course, meta tags and the "alt" in
images being the lone exceptions to the rule.
"How do I choose my keywords," you ask? I start by making a list of any words
I can think of. Next, I ask a friend, colleague or a client familiar with the topic for
the words they would use. I like to do this because they will be prevalent among the users
looking for information on that particular topic. I write down the new ones they give me
however, if they repeat a word or phrase I thought of I put two check marks beside them.
Lastly, I ask someone who hasn't got a clue about the topic putting one check mark beside
Why the check marks? I do this to put a value on the words and phrases. Keep in mind
you have limits to the amount of characters you can use in both your keyword and
description meta tags. I suggest 800 characters for the keywords and no more then 180 for
the description. I know the known limit is 1024 but unless you want to write separate tags
for each engine start with 800 because each search engine has different limits and 800
works on all of them. For descriptions keeping it to 180 characters will cover all engines
There are four other web resources I know of for Choosing
Keywords for queries. I've listed them on the Search Engine Placement page.
Since the writing of this article I am now using the keywords tool on
GOTO.com. There is an excellent resource at http://www.selfpromotion.com/pageprep.t
I also run the keyword and keyword phrases through WebPosition Agent. This gives me the
sites with the highest positions on 10 of the most important search engines. Once the
mission is complete I check through the top ten eliminating the irrelevant sites.
I pay special attention to the repeated keywords on the spamdexed sites because this is
a good clue as to the most important keywords. These will be the hardest to get a higher
placement for. Why else would they employ these tactics? WebPosition will also let me know
which words or phrases returned no pages. Easy to be #1 in a contest with yourself.
Now you're ready to start writing the <meta tags> right? Nope, you should write
the title first! Why? If you make your title out of the keyword phrases you'll place
higher. Frequency of a phrase or grouping of keywords in the meta tags, title and at the
beginning of the document are the path to the top of the search engines.
I got the title for this page by putting two of the phrases together with a keyword
made into a statement using "and" to make the two phrases into a coherent
Writing the Meta Tags
I write meta tags by first putting the phrases with the highest priority first and then
copy (faster then typing for me) the keywords and shorter phrases using the clipboard in
my html editor. I do this as quickly as I possibly can with little care taken for
spelling! Hugh? I don't know about you but when I'm at a search engine I'm in a rush to
get the information and get out of there. Aren't you?
This carelessness results in spelling errors and keystroke errors because your brain is
working faster then your fingers either that or I'm dyslexic, take your pick. After I have
the three or four Keyword phrases entered I go back and check for errors.
Any errors I find I cut them and place them at the end. Replace the errors and I'm
ready to continue. Why do I leave them in and place them at the end. I leave them in
because when a user is at the search engine, also in a hurry to move on, she/he'll
possibly make the same errors resulting in a match for the query.
I place them at the end so if I go over my character limit they are easy to find and
remove. Space permitting, I'll add other variations and misspelled words to form phrases.
If I go over the limit I have to make some choices and decide whether to leave in the
spelling errors or remove some other keywords.
Here are some tools I use for checking and counting the characters in meta tags:
Super Note Tab
Great little freeware
text editor with search and replace, a clipboard notebook and best of all a character ruler
across the top which makes keeping track of the number of characters in your metas etc. a
breeze for even a mathematics dunce like The T Man!!;) If you're ready to get rid of that
wysiwyg this one has features that makes hand coding pages a breeze.
NorthernWebs Meta Medic
this is the free resource. The paid version looks like something we should invest in but
by generating our own keywords we continue to pick up a few more things we can pass on.
The fine people at NorthernWebs are a good lot and deserve your patronage for providing
this great resource and fine Search Engine