Are meta tags important for SEO?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by daj, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. daj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    #1
    It's been awhile since I paid attention to SEO for my websites (pay per click changed a lot of things), but the website I'm working on in iweb is one I don't plan on paying for advertising. Are search engines still using meta tags to locate and rank sites?

    Any guidelines for adding them to my iweb pages? Any code I shouldn't mess with?

    TIA
    dj
     
  2. nightelf macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    #2
    Google do not use Meta keywords to rank sites.

    I think they use bots to analyze the content, and rank the pages depending on how many "high-ranking" sites are pointing to your site, your domain, title of your page, etc.
     
  3. andy89 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Location:
    Folkestone, England
    #3
    Meta-tags aren't required, but I still put them in. Every little helps, right?
     
  4. nightelf macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    #4
    I read that others search engines use them, but Google ignores them because people used keywords that were not related, etc.
     
  5. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    #5
    no.

    simple question, simple answer.

    The only thing Google uses is the description, which displays as the description on the results page.

    If that is missing it just takes some text from the page relevant to the users query. No weighting is given the the content in the description.

    The key to "SEO" is accepting that in the long term there are no tricks or shortcuts. Focusing time and effort producing great content will do your web-site the world of good.
     
  6. clintob macrumors 6502

    clintob

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #6
    Eh - yes, and no. For Google they're not particularly important (although saying that Google ignores them is a lie). Google doesn't use them in it's first set of criteria, but as you move further down the line, it does employ some of your META tags to make a final determination on page rank. Pages with META tags that are nearly identical to search criteria will outrank similar pages with less accurate META tags.

    That said, here's a pretty good "template" of sorts for all your pages. It covers all the important META tags that are still in use by various engines, so you should always fill them in just in case (whether Google uses them or not). If you use TextMate, skEdit, Dreamweaver or any other decent text editor, you can save this as your XHTML template and you'll always be good to go:

    HTML:
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
    
    <head>
    <title>My Page Title</title>
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
    <meta name="Author" content="" />
    <meta name="Copyright" content="" />
    <meta name="Subject" content="" /> 
    <meta name="Keywords" content="" />
    <meta name="Description" content="" />
    <meta name="revisit-after" content="7 days" />
    <meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
    
    <link href="my_style_sheet.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />
    
    <script language="Javascript" type="text/javascript">
    <!--
    Any js goes here
    //-->
    </script>
    
    </head>
    
     
  7. richjtg macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    I would also suggest you keep putting meta data in your pages. Google isn't the only search engine on the planet and you can pick up some decent traffic from other sources.
     
  8. F.D. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    #8
    I too am asking a stupid question. But I'm stupid. Will my iWeb site start to appear on Google searches? Without Meta Tags or a description?
     
  9. tominated macrumors 68000

    tominated

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #9
    probably not, unless iWeb renders your text as text and not images in the html
     
  10. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    #10
    Yes, Google only uses the description meta tag for the description under the blue link. If it is unavailable then it will just take some text from the page.
     
  11. seoman macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    #11
    Meta tags are reviving back on search engines.

    Meta tags seems to loose their significance in 2007, but in 2008, SEO Meta tags are must :)
     
  12. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #12
    The best answer is a compilation of previous answers - i.e. it's important to have well defined and accurate meta tags (of which the example posted above including the DTD and various header tags is superb) as well as the content side. That, in combination with a well defined robots.txt to tell most bots which portions of your site may be indexed, is the key so successful indexing.

    I'd focus on these 3:

    The KEYWORDS should include singular and plural incarnations of words, around 250 words or so maximum if possible since most search engines parse at that length. The words should be prioritized by importance, and relative to the content and focus of your web site.

    The DESCRIPTION should be brief, focused on the purpose and content of the web site, and brief is better as again this is parsed strictly by most bots.

    The TITLE will be optimized in most search results better if you include the site name followed by a colon or some separator and then the page name, which also helps users know where they are (similar to a breadcrumb trail but very simple). This also helps if someone bookmarks a specific page and links directly to it, as the title will include the site name. Oldest trick in the book and it works well. This is a strong, strong, suggestion.

    Example:

    Note: Since the site I used to get these headers from is part of a larger government entity, the "DC." prefix refers to the optional "Dublin Core" method of recording meta tags which are formally recognized by most major bots and won't be discarded when indexed. The schema is linked in my example above, if you don't use Dublin Core, remove the <link> line.

    Finally, an example robots.txt (edit/upload to your document root):

    EDIT: For information on setting up your own robots.txt please visit: http://www.outfront.net/tutorials_02/adv_tech/robots.htm

    -jim
     

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