Put on your thinking caps today. We’re going to get a little nerdy here in mid-summer! We have talked, a bunch, about the “big picture” of SEO. Important steps like doing your keyword research, optimizing your site with those phrases and making sure you have dedicated landing pages for the associated, targeted words. Digging down a little further, we should look at the “guts” of SEO and explore the “META tags”.
These are the items that, for the most part, the web visitor will never see. If you are savvy enough to do some exploring on your own (right-click – view source), you can check out the tags your competitor is using, but most of us simply ignore them and focus on the content of the page. Search engine “bots”, however, do NOT ignore them. For SEs (Search Engines) like Google, the “title” tag is one of the most important and is scrutinized closely as it relates to the content of the page. It is limited to around 60-65 characters and should be directly focused on the content of the page. The length of this is surrounded in a bit of debate, but you can test different titles out and see which one appears the best when you do a search.
The title tag also shows up in most browsers. It will display either in the top banner of the entire browser or, more likely, in the header of the tab (assuming you are using tabs). The description and keyword tags are really not very closely watched anymore. Back in the early days of SEO, you know… waaaay back in the late nineties, those tags were more important. Then lots of folks started cramming their sites full of those keywords (visible and invisible), and the SEs got wise. Now, the SEs are more closely looking at content.
If you are using a CMS (wordpress, Joomla, etc.) to build your site or plain old HTML, you should be aware of your “H-tags” (H1, H2, etc.) and use them wisely. These are default tags in HTML that provide you with headings (hence the “H”) throughout your site. It could (should?) be page titles, paragraph headings, etc. These are looked at by the SEs relatively closely and should, like your title tags, be directly related to the content below.
As Google (and the other SEs) get more specific in their approach, one theme always rings true. At the end of the day, whatever it is you are doing on your website, ensure that you are providing valuable, original content to your visitors. That’s it. There really is no magic. If your title tags, keywords, description, alt tags, image title tags, etc. ALL line up with the actual content of your page (and ideally are related to the theme of your whole site), you will be rewarded for your efforts. If you are doing all of that work, but the content of the pages is spammy, duplicate, worthless garbage, your reward (and ranking!) will be less than desirable!