Title and Metatags

Metatags are vital but alone they have never been a guaranteed way to gain a top ranking on crawler-based search engines. Today, the most valuable feature they offer the web site owner is the ability to control to some degree how their web pages are described by some search engines. They also offer the ability to prevent pages from being indexed at all.

Meta Tag Overview
What are meta tags? They are information inserted into the "head" area of your web pages. Here we would include the title tag (explained below), information in the head area of your web pages is not seen by those viewing your pages in browsers. Instead, meta information in this area is used to communicate information that a human visitor may not be concerned with. Meta tags, for example, can tell a browser what "character set" to use or whether a web page has self-rated itself in terms of adult content.

Let's see two common types of metatags, then we'll discuss exactly how they are used in more depth:

metatags

In the example above, you can see the beginning of the page's "head" area as noted by the [HEAD] tag -- it ends at the portion shown as [/HEAD].

Meta tags go in between the "opening" and "closing" HEAD tags. Shown in the example is a TITLE tag, then a META DESCRIPTION tag, then a META KEYWORDS tag. Let's talk about what these do.

Take a look at your title tags. A title tag is the line of text that is normally displayed at the top of the browser window. Title tags are arguably the most important SEO tags for any site.

For most search engines, the maximum length of a title tag to be displayed is between 60-70 characters. If your title tag is over 70 characters, your title will be cut off around 70 characters on the search results page.

Search engine spiders use these title tags as the main source for determining the page topic. Spiders or crawlers examine the title and then translate the topic of the page. This is one reason why it is always best to use your keywords in the page title, and to place them as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Remember, the text included in the title tag is also the text that will appear in the SERPs (search engine results pages) as the linked title on which users will click to access your page. In fact, just fixing the title tags of your pages can often generate quick and significant improvements in your rankings.

For example, let’s say you have an educational site that provides information and guidelines on teacher certification requirements. You’ve decided that the most important keywords for your site are “teaching certification” and “teaching requirements.” In this case, a page title along the lines of “Teaching Requirements for Teacher Certification” is highly relevant to the topic of the site. Spiders will crawl your site, and because the title is the first factor it sees, the spider will “read” it and then examine the rest of the page finding the keywords used in other places on the page to determine how relevant the title is to the rest of the content. If the content, H tags, and title tag all relate—you’re in business! This is why it’s so important to target the most critical keywords in the title tag.

Follow this same process for all of your pages, and remember to create unique titles that are relevant to each page and do not keyword stuff. This greatly improves the effectiveness of those tags and will increase the search engine rankings for your keywords. Although your home page might show up for 20 or 30 different keyword combinations, only your top two or three keyword phrases should be included in the title.

In total there are over 100 metatags and the importance of each varies for each search engine and over time.