Video 12: Myths and Realities of Meta Tags
Related: The Myth of the Magical Meta Tag
Hi, it’s Aaron Kassover from AgentMethods. I wanted to talk today about meta tags. And this something you might have heard people mention. They are important in certain ways, but I found that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how meta tags are used. So I want to take just a couple of minutes to explain what they are and show you how they are used. Now, there are two main types of meta tags that we really care about. There are a couple of others that aren’t so important. But two main types that we care about are the meta keywords tag and the meta description tag. You can view these on your page simply by going to a website, right-clicking and choosing “View Page Source” and this will show you the HTML of the page and meta tags appear up in the top in the page header.
You can see here on this page, we’ve got a couple of meta tags. The meta description appears, you can read exactly what it is, and the meta keywords appear just below it. Now, the meta keywords used to be the place where you could go and just sort of list off the keywords that the page was about. You make it in a list with commas and search engines would go and index this, and they would look at your keyword tag and they would say, “Okay, great; we’re set.” That worked out really well. But then, because it was so easy to do, people started abusing it. People started putting in things in meta keyword tags that they knew were high volume search phrases, but really weren’t anything to do with what the page content was about. So they were abusing the keyword tags and over time, search engines started ignoring it more and more, weighing it less and less in their ranking factors, until today where it really isn’t even used at all. So my recommendations for meta keywords is you can really simply ignore them, or if you don’t want to ignore them, spend just a couple of minutes, make a couple of quick keywords, but it’s not going to make or break you.
The meta description, however, is a fairly important meta tag. It doesn’t factor so much into your rankings on search engines, but where it does come into play is in your click-through rates. So let’s go take a look at this page and how it shows up in Google so you can see whether the meta description shows up.
So we’ve got the page here. You can see this is the link to the page. In the bold, sort of the bright blue, or the bolded headline, Google grabs the title tags from the page and shows that. Just beneath that has a little bit of a snippet of text explaining more about the page. Now, if you look at this, you’ll see that word for word, Google has just taken my meta description and is displaying that on the search engine results page. Yahoo does the same thing. This is a great opportunity for you to affect the click-through rate on the search engine results page. You can write a one or two sentence, think of it as sort of an ad, explaining what this page is about and why someone would want to visit it. If you do this right, you’ll see that once this page starts to show up in search engines, you can greatly increase the chance that somebody clicks on your link as opposed to somebody else’s.
Now, just a couple of things. The first are that you want to keep it shorter than 155 characters. You can make it longer, but if you do, it will get truncated. The second is if you’re an AgentMethods customer, you can go and you can edit your meta tags very easily just by going into the “Manage Content” section, clicking on “edit”, and you’ll see that right here is the description tag, and here’s the one from this page. And the keywords tag, you just go and type in what you need and then make the save, save the page, and it’s done. It will take a couple of weeks usually for them to start showing up in search engines because they have to crawl up and re-index it. So don’t expect to see the changes right away.
What I want you to do today is just go through the main pages of your site and make sure they have meta descriptions. If they don’t, go in and write a unique description for each page and think about, you know, a sentence or two explaining to somebody why would you want to click on this page, what you’re going to find, why is it better than any other options. Do this and once you start getting index in search engines, it will make a big difference in getting your site to draw more traffic from them.
That’s all for today, and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow with more. Thank you.