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Meta Tag Myths For Beginning Webmasters

Aug 17, 2007
Most beginning webmasters make a handful of critical mistakes when optimizing their websites for search engine optimization. One of the biggest mistakes they make is utilizing meta tags incorrectly. Here are the nine biggest mistakes to avoid when utilizing meta tags for your website.

1. Add every meta tag that you can.
Use the old adagewhen applying meta tags, KISS or "keep it simple, stupid." Don't add tags unless you know what you're doing. Don't make up your own tag names because no-one's paying any attention to them. Most of these tags are skipped over by most search engines today. The only crucial tags are the description tag and the keywords tag which are both utilized only occasionally. Many other tags are there just for the sake of crediting the webmaster, author, etc. These kinds of tags are there mostly for the sake of other webmasters if they need to know who to contact about the page itself.

2. Have lots of keywords.
Using the 'keywords' meta tag correctly is good. Getting too hung up on it is bad. Many search engines now ignore it altogether, including Google and AltaVista. Remember that putting too many words in this tag could be considered spamming could get your site banned. Keep the keywords related to your site only. As previously stated, many of your meta tags will be skipped over anyway, but you should keep to your primary key words and not worry too much about assembling a gigantic list. Be descriptive, be honest, don't be excessive.

3. Keyword lists must have a formula.
People have a tendency to get very distracted by the keyword meta tag. Relate it to your site and do not expect miracles from it. It gets skipped more often than not by the SE spiders. Even it's used it is used in conjunction with the content on your page. If you want to obsess with optimizing something, optimize your content.

4. The title tag doesn't really do much.
Out of all the tags, this one is the most important when it's used correctly. Just like with your site's content, write your title tag for your audience first and the search engines second. Think about your site's branding and navigation issues as you create
your title tags. Your title should be relatively long. A seven to ten word title is not out of the question. The title is the first thing that a search engine really cares about and it should be the most common thing that you want your visitors to find you for. Your most important key words should all be worked into your title.

5. If I copy my competitor's keywords I will do just as well. You need to understand tags and the details of search engine optimization in general. What works for one site doesn't necessarily work for another! You do not have identical sites so you cannot work with identical keywords. Aside from this detail, a site that has been around longer is more likely to have success from its key words than a new
site. If you are trying to take over a small niche, you have to expand and do something that your competitor hasn't done yet.

6. If I repeat my keywords in a comment tag I will rank better.There was a time when this was true but it is not so anymore. Search engines are all wise to this trick nowadays.

7. We need to have as many different keywords as possible throughout our site. This is an SEO nightmare. Your pages need to be focused, not always trying to cover all basis. Limit your keywords. A ketword density of 5-10% of total copy is good and they should be woven into sentences to make sense.

8. Anyone can write a website's tags.
SEO calls for copywriting and marketing talent. Practice at it. Writing good tags that can attract both humans and search engine spiders isn't easy.

9. Google doesn't rank me by the description tag, so why should I use it? Google does still use the description tag from your site. It displays it to its users in their search results. If there's no description tag, they'll just see a nonsense excerpt from your site, which is bad. Don't forget that there are still plenty of uses for the description tag. Make the title and the description complement each other, as they will often be displayed together.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is a webmaster and consults on search engine optimization tips. For more information see Net Home Profits.
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