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Meta Tags - What are they? How do you use them?

Perhaps you've heard of meta tags, but didn't know what they were or how to use them.

Meta tags, quite simply, are instructions or key words you can add to your web pages, to help some search engines describe, classify and index your web site.

There are two meta tags that you should be concerned with. The first is the description meta tag. The description meta tag allows you to create the site description that a search engine will display when someone searches the web.

When a search engine displays the results of a search, typically you will see a clickable word or title for a site.  You'll also see a short sentence or paragraph describing the site. This short description may or may not be very meaningful, depending on the site and the search engine. Some search engines try to create the description from content on the page itself. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. However, the search engines that look at and use your description meta tag will display the site description YOU specify.

For example, let's say you are selling pickled peaches from your site. If you create a description meta tag that says "Paul's Pickled Peaches are the Sweetest Peaches on the Net", then that's what a person doing a search at some search engines will see (if the page matches their search).

The second type of meta tag you should use is the keywords meta tag. As you might imagine from its name, the keywords tag allows you to "tell" the search engines what keywords relate to your site. If you want someone who is searching the web to find Paul's peach site, you would naturally include the word "peach" as a keyword. In addition, Paul should include other keywords such as peaches, fruit, pickled, pickle, Georgia, sweet, vegetables, etc.

Your use of creative keywords will help you get visitors to your site. For example, you should include popular misspellings (mispellings) of words related to your site. Paul might include "peeches" as a keyword. Also, consider adding the names of your biggest competitors to your list of keywords. Do some searches on the keywords you think your customers will be using. Go to the top 10 sites and take a look at the keyword meta tags used by these top sites.  Here's how to look at the meta tag:

In MS Internet Explorer, click View, then click Source from the pulldown menu. In Netscape, click View, then click Document Source from the pulldown menu. You'll see the code for the web page. The meta tags will be near the very top.

To add the description or keyword code to your web pages, follow these examples, and type your own code into your web pages.

Insert the meta tags after the <HEAD> tag and before the <TITLE> tag.

Your html will look something like this:

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="insert your description here">
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="insert your keywords here">
<TITLE>Insert your title here</TITLE>

Here's our "pickled peaches" example:

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Paul's Pickled Peaches are the Sweetest Peaches on the Net">
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="peach, peaches, fruit, pickled, pickle, Georgia, sweet, vegetables, peech, peeches">
<TITLE>Paul's Pickled Peaches</TITLE>

Be sure to include the description and keywords meta tag on all your web pages.

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