Meta tags, or meta data, are inserted into the code of a page to help search engines determine what a web page is about. Many website content management systems, like WordPress, have a plugin that can be used to easily fill in, change or update this meta data in one location for those business owners who aren’t familiar with html coding. There are several types of meta tags that can play a role in how well a site ranks in search engines, including title tags, meta description, keyword tags, photo alt tags and heading tags to name a few.
Here’s a look at each more in-depth:
The title tag tags the title of your page and is the text seen in the browser bar when a web page is displayed. The key to an effective title tag is to use a keyword-specific title that tells search engines and users what the page is about. Keep this to 60 or less characters and use every word wisely. It is all about matching the words that potential customers will use in their search.
A meta description is a brief, 160-character description that includes some keywords and a general idea of what the page content is about. These descriptions are often used by search engines and they can actually show up on the SERPs, giving web users an idea what your website is about. They also may be modified automatically to match each search query.
Fill in the keyword tag with words or short phrases deemed to be relevant to the page. Separate each word or phrase with a comma and add eight or less keywords or phrases in total. This tag has been devalued, but I still advise including it in the mix and feel that it is still worth completing. These tags are another part of the hidden meta tags that can help the search engine under-stand what the page is about.
Photo Alt Tags
Each and every photo on a website provides an opportunity to add an alt tag. This is a great place to add in specific keywords or targeted locations that can help boost rankings for those search queries. So if a photo is of a “new roof being put on a home located in Seattle”, that should be the alt tag.
Heading tags should be used throughout the content of every page or blog post to separate long blocks of text and separate headings or subheadings from paragraph text. There are six header tags that can be used—H1 through H6. H1 tags give the most weight or importance. At the top of every page, include an H1 tag that will tell search engines what each page is about.
Search engines compare the keywords found in these heading tags with the associated content and look for relevancy and keyword consistency. These visible tags also serve to provide an enriched user experience by making the content easy to read and follow.
Consider other SEO strategies, like placing links to other relevant pages within the website and attracting high-quality organic backlinks from other strong
websites. The more links that connect to your site, the better you will do. But be careful; avoid links from overseas companies or from sites that do not make sense for your type of business. Google is very strict about adding penalties to sites that buy links that are not relevant to their industry.
Don’t overlook creating local “citation” links, which are listings on sites like Yelp, Super Pages, YP, Kudzu, Merchant Circle and many more. These build strength for your business.
And the best ongoing strategy is to continue building new content on a regular basis. One way to keep the content fresh and up-to-date can be accomplished by adding a blog to your online content. Although the SEO landscape is always changing, many of the tactics discussed in this article have remained tried-and-true and are still delivering solid results for companies that understand how to improve their sites and increase their rankings.
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