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SEO Tips Part 3: The Mystery of Meta Tags


SEO John Hacking Search Tempo cartoon

In this Google-rank-boosting series, we are being illuminated by SEO expert John Hacking of Search Tempo. Today is about meta tags – those babies behind the scenes that can still make all the difference.

  1. John, tell us about those meta tag fields found in the back end of our websites (if installed, usually underneath the area to add /edit content on our site). What meta tags are useful these days? 

    Depending on the SEO plug-in that you have (WordPress examples: All in One SEO, Yoast, etc.) you can customise your meta tags on a page-by-page basis. The three meta tag areas in the back end of your site are:
    1.    Title
    2.    Description
    3.    Keywords

    1. Title meta tag (70 characters max.) 

    This is very important for SEO. These words appear on the bar at the very top of your browser window (the page handle). The first words should be the search term you are trying to optimise for. But if you have space after that, then insert marketing enticements such as an offer and call to action. For example: House painter North Brisbane Free quotes Call 07 3345 6789. 

    This is supposed to tell the search engine what the page is about. Think of a book on a bookshelf. If its called Wild Fishing Adventures then you have an idea of what its about. But if it’s called Gone With the Wind Rambo Fishing Adventures Great Escape then you really have no idea what it’s about. It’s the same for search engines.

    2. Description meta tag (150 characters max.)
Not such a big deal from a rankings point of view but a big deal from a marketing point of view. These are the words that appear on a Google search under the title link. So people read it to decide whether to click on it. Google automatically pulls the description off the page itself. But you can create you own. Weave keywords into it, along with an offer or call to action. For example: Qualified master House painter free colour matching reliable shows up on time Call 07 3345 6789  for a free quote. So we have some marketing text in there and some keywords. 

    3. Keywords meta tag

    You can put as many keywords as you like, but I recommend five maximum. If you have too many words and the words conflict, then it doesn’t make much sense to the search engine.

  2. I know with WordPress sites you can create a ‘post tags’ and have a tag cloud. Are they helpful for SEO? 

    No, they don’t make a difference for SEO. They can help, however, as a navigation tool for the visitor to find particular information.
  3. Once you’ve conquered your meta tags, how do you know how you appear on Google?
    I have discovered a handy tool: Scrub The Web where you enter your URL and, through an email confirmation process will show you how your listing will look on a search engine page. You will also receive a search engine visibility score (hard to get above 60 – very unforgiving!). Scrub The Web will also give helpful hints to improve your meta tag content. 


Your BIG opportunity: Ask the SEO expert

What do you want to know about SEO?

Gerry asked John: "If I submitted my site and it's not showing up, does that mean Google's banned me?"

If it's a brand new site and you have submitted it via Google Webmaster tools, it may take a week or two to show up in the results. One way to check is to perform this search on your domain name. (MMT note: I would Google: so you just insert your URL). This will show a list of pages that Google has indexed. If any pages are listed there, Google has not de-indexed your site.

Nicky wrote in with: "How can I find out how much traffic my competitors are getting?"

The short answer is you can't. Not unless you have access to your competitors' web site statistics which is pretty unlikely. Besides, traffic doesn't pay the bills, it is converting traffic that is important. Assuming your competitors know about SEO, what you can do is work out what search terms they are trying to optimise for.

To do this, view the source code of their pages (MMT note – every browser is slightly different, so to find out how to do this Google: How to view source code [insert your browser name]). Then look up the top of the page of code for something like: <title>Red widget grooming Carina</title>. The title tag should tell you what the page is trying to be found for in Google.


What's your question? John will answer it at the end of the next SEO Tips post. Irresistible, right?

In SEO Tips Part 4, John shows us the magic of inbound links and what PageRank actually means. Stay tuned!

Missed the others?
1.    SEO Tips Part 1: The Keyword Palaver
2.    SEO Tips Part 2: Keywords in Your Web Address

John Hacking of Search Tempo can help with your ranking, no matter where you are in the world. Time to give John a holler?
 P.S. He doesn’t charge monthly fees.

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Posted on Jan 31st, 2013 SEO tips  ,  ,

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