A small business should take the time to review their website meta tags and also research the best keywords for their industry and target geographical markets. Meta tags have limited impact on search engine placement, but attention to the top three meta tags; title, keyword and description, will help maximize your SEO strategy.
[This article is reviewed yearly to ensure relevancy with Google algorithm updates and SEO best practices. Last update: 5/22/2015]
- Title tags remain the most important meta tags that are used by all search engines. The title tag appears at the top of a browser and is also the default phrase that appears when a page is bookmarked.
- Be clear and concise with the wording of each page’s title tag.
- It is best to begin with primary keywords that describe the page content, then a secondary keyword/phrase followed by the website name such as “Webinar Training | Virginia Web Meetings | The Ink Blog.” WordPress creates a a page name blog name style by default, e.g. Page Name | Blog Name.
- Limit the title tag to 60 characters which is “usually” the maximum shown in Google search results.
Keyword Tags vs. Keywords Used for SEO
Keyword tags are no longer recommended for use in websites. Google ignores them and savvy competitors will easily see the keywords you are trying to optimize for your website. Instead of using keyword metatags identify a set of keywords for each page of the website.
- Limit each page to one or two keyword combinations.
- Targeting multiple keywords on a single page will prevent Google, and even your customers from determining what the primary purpose for the web page.
- Make keywords specific to the content of each page. Don’t use the same set of keywords on every page. Making them unique to each page will increase the relevance of the keywords and increase the validity of your site for search engines and visitors.
- Shy away from the use of a single keyword for optimization unless it is incredibly unique, e.g. “Dentist” is good as a single keyword. People seldom use a single keyword in searches and single keywords usually have millions of results making your site rank high for it next to impossible. For example, “business” is a much too broad and unspecific keyword.
- Use SEMRush.com or the Google Keyword Planner Tool to choose the best keywords for each page.
- Many websites often have many keywords which have little relevance for your site. Just having a city or county name as a keyword by itself will not increase your site’s SEO ranking for those words since someone typing in “Philadelphia, PA” in a Google search is most likely not looking for a specific business or service. If they were , they would most likely type in the name of the service they are searching.
- Description tags are still relevant since many search engines including Google sometimes use this tag to begin the description of your site in search engine results. Facebook also used the description tag of a site when a URL is pasted into a status update.
- Limit the description to one or two sentences that best describe your website. Google displays about 160 characters of text in the search results so the first 15 words in your description are critical. [Google is experimenting with much longer meta description tags, but we recommend focusing on 160 until the longer number becomes the norm.]
Header “H1” Tags
H1 tags are the header descriptions found on a web page. This blog article’s header tag/title, ‘Meta Tags for SEO” is assigned an H1 tag by default by WordPress. Make sure there is only one H1 tag on each page and include the most important keywords that describe the page content in this tag. Google and other search engines look for this tag to help determine if the content of the page is relevant to a search.
Meta Tag Coordination
Another best practice is to coordinate keywords across metatags. If the title tag, description tag and H1 tags all contain at least one word in common, search engines will determine that your site is highly relevant for the keywords being searched! Primary keywords should also be place at the front of each metatag area for the greatest impact.
There are many other ways to increases your SEO rankings. One of the most effective ways is to increase the number of other websites linking to your website. This can be accomplished most effectively by developing links to your website by other popular websites like trade associations, membership organizations, and business partner websits. Listing your business in local directories doesn’t have the same SEO value as a business website link, but it does increase the overall positioning of your website on the Internet.
Read TheInkBlog article on promoting small business on the web by using website directories.
Read more information about some Basic SEO strategies too!