Why I Think Meta Tags Are Making A Comeback
es, you read that right.. for years you believed meta tags meant nothing to Google and the other big search engines when optimizing your pages. Well if you did, I think your wrong and semi-foolish for still not using them in your Internet marketing plans for onsite optimization.
First off, why would you not include them? Even if they meant nothing, it only takes a few minutes to add them into your page and site layout… and it doesn’t take away from the site design, site programming, or ranking in a search engine. If it never did anything for you, the worst you could say is that it wasted 4 to 5 minutes of your time.
One reason using meta tags is still valid is that many search engines, directories, and listing services still use meta tags to learn and display information about your site. Even if Google, Yahoo, and MSN didn’t use them.. many local and smaller search engines, niche directories, and vendor listing services use meta tags to help them display content about your site or web page. You may not receive a lot of traffic from these sources, but traffic is traffic.. and you don’t want your site information improperly displayed to someone that might be dropping a large sale right in your lap, no matter where they came from. One such search engine software that I know uses meta tags is:
Fluid Dynamics Search Engine
This script does allow you to change the information you want displayed, but I have used this software several times over the years for various projects and the default setup always used the meta tags information. Many other people using similar search engine software and directory listing software will have the same experience. The simple fact is you don’t know who will index you, what software they are using to index you, or their methods for ranking your site… so not having meta tags is just plain dumb and lazy to begin with.
I have had many chats with other Internet marketing professionals and site owners that balk at the idea of adding in meta tags because they feel they have nothing to add to the improvement of the site. This was true several years ago when many of the large search engines stopped using meta tag information ( namely description and keyword tags ), but I see that trend could be on a reversal.
For one, I have been building a site secretly for the past few months that uses several unique keywords and a unique description that are found no where else on the site. Even though I hadn’t released this site publicly as I work on it, I have submitted it to Google, Yahoo, and MSN so that the site will be indexed when it goes public. My findings?.. Interesting enough, if I search those for those unique terms on Yahoo I can see my listing in their index. This however, did not work on Google or MSN.
Maybe they haven’t indexed my site yet for those words, or maybe they still don’t care about meta tags as much, but it did get me to thinking. It seems at least Yahoo may be including meta tags into their ranking specs. again.. but why shouldn’t Google or MSN do the same.. and not tell anyone?
The practice of stuffing terms into meta tags to me has slowed down, and I think just about every webmaster knows this by now. The search engines have won that battle for the most part and now that it has died down, why wouldn’t the search engines add this back to their algo’s? If they never told anyone they did, and only graded information on meta tags on a very low ranking scale.. how would anyone really know they switched back?
For all we know, all the search engines are grading our meta tag information and never told us they started doing this again.. and ranking the information on a very low scale.. so that if people did start keyword spamming/stuffing again, it wouldn’t matter as much because the point system is so low for this information.
Another site that I did so some SEO optimization on that I have seen this was a website that had been indexed by Google, Yahoo, and MSN already and had been up for a couple of years. Nothing was really being added to the site and the content was stale. I came in and immediately added a robots.txt file to the site and optimized the titles and meta tags information for each page after researching related terms and keywords for their industry. After one week, their rankings in Google went from the 25th page to the 2nd page. They jumped 6 pages in Yahoo and 9 pages in MSN in a little over 3 weeks.
If you still dis-credit meta tags, then the only thing I did for my client was optimize their titles and added in a robots.txt file. I hardly doubt the addition of a robots.txt file and changing of titles would create such an improvement, and this is why I think meta tags play a more important role than people currently think.
I did go on later, after these finding, to re-write their content copy, add a sitemaps page, and various other improvements.. but these were added after my findings, so I know they had no bearing on the end results.
Don’t be a fool and think meta tags are just a waste of time, you never know what the search engines just might be up to this week.
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- 7.13.06 / 4pm
- Search Engine Optimization