Search Engine Optimization clients often ask about secret keywords meta tags known only to SEO’s as if there is some sort of SEO Keyword Voodoo that only Search engine optimization specialists understand. Rather than simply using keywords liberally in page text, web site owners seem to believe if they use them in those invisible meta tags, that it will improve their ranking for keywords that aren’t on the visible part of the page.
Further, clients attempt to use site-wide keywords that reference all the products they sell from every page on the site! This widely misunderstood tactic actually hurts ranking rather than helping it. Here’s an easy rule of thumb. If the keyword isn’t in the page body text in the single page you are looking at, don’t use it in any meta tags. If you feel you must use the keyword in meta tags, then you must also insert it into the visible page text. Not into images or their alt tags, not in title attributes, not in directory names or image names, IN BODY TEXT. If you ignore this recommendation, you dilute relevance of any keywords that ARE in body text. Start on the page!
Clients get caught up in arcane minutia of SEO worrying over details that they don’t understand, taken out of context from articles they’ve seen or arguments they’ve read in discussion lists. A litany of questions ensues.
Am I better off with generic keywords or brand specific keywords? Do I make special landing pages with targeted keyword phrases, or better yet, keyword domains focusing only on specific keywords? Do I put my best keywords all over the page or put them at the top for more relevance? Should I use those important keyword phrases in a title tags even if they aren’t on the page? How about comment tags, alt text tags, noframes tags, and noscript tags?
If you insist on believing in meta tag voodoo, I suggest that you concentrate on the no voodoo meta tag. <novoodoo>
For those of you who actually want to rank well in the search engines for your important keyword phrases, and who don’t want to spend time burning candles, chanting incantations and poking keyword pins into voodoo dolls, I suggest you learn the simplest of all SEO rules.
Put your keywords in the text on your web page! If the keywords aren’t already included within the body text of your web site in sufficient density, then it won’t matter what HTML tags you use or where you put them.
Often clients react with intense surprise when I tell them that the keywords they are targeting are nowhere to be found on their home page and we need to add them. One surprised site owner pointed to the graphic images across the top and bottom of their pages where keyword phrases loomed in giant stylized type across the page.
They asked about the menu bar along the left of their site template, "You know, those that change color as you hover your mouse over them?" Sorry, those are images. The solution is NOT in the images with words painted on them by fancy graphics programs, but in real body text.
Here’s a quick test I recommend to clients. Go to the Website101 HTML Source Code Viewer and enter your URL in the text box on that page where it says "Page URL" and click the button that says "View HTML" and you’ll see the code behind any page you enter in that text box, including metatags.
Here’s a more time consuming method for those who want to document and save their results in a word document to show to developers. Visit your site home page online. Go to the browser menu, choose "Edit" and then "Select All". This highlights all text on the page.
Now go again to the browser menu, again choose "Edit" then click on "Copy", which will copy that highlighted text to your clipboard. Now open up Notepad from your Windows "Start" menu by choosing the "Programs", then "Accessories" and finally "Notepad". If you attempt to do this in Microsoft Word, it will also paste the images from the page into your document, so it won’t help you to see just the text on your page – use NotePad.
When the blank page of Notepad text editor opens, paste the text you’ve copied from your page into it by going to the Notepad menu bar, choosing "Edit" then "Paste".
Many who don’t do their own design work are startled by how few words of text actually appear when doing this little test. This serves as a wake-up call when they experience this demonstration and begin to come to an understanding that this text is all the search engines see, or care about.
This text shows clearly that not everything that you can see on the page is actual text. Much of it is made up of images with stylized text painted on to them by a graphics program. What you see on that Notepad page now is your visible body text. That text that you now have in front of you is all that matters to the search engines. They don’t care about the images or invisible Voodoo meta tags.
Even then, surprised clients blurt, "We included those keywords in the invisible HTML code on the page lots of times in special (Voodoo) meta tags our developer used."
Entrepreneurs often hire developers based on stellar client lists or personal recommendations from partners or even staff members, but search engine optimization is rarely understood to be among the skill sets needed within web design jobs. SEO is done only by specialist Keyword Voodoo practitioners that come in later to save site owners from "invisible HTML tags" haunting their keyword-less pages.
What do SEO’s do? Add the keywords to the body text – FIRST, before anything else is done. There are clearly additional things we do as well, but the path to highly ranked web pages is not in the HTML that you CAN’T see, it is right in the body text of the page in the form of visible words on the page.
Mike Banks Valentine is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist practicing ethical SEO for Online businesses
If you are in a competitive category, then getting a site ranked well will very likely take a long, focused and determined effort on your part, or hire a professional SEO for faster results. Keep in mind that it takes most search engines a bare minimum of two weeks to spider and index your sites after you have submitted them! It can then take an additional month (sometimes up to 6 months) for your results to start improving.
Do you want to see how the search engines view your pages? Try the Search Engine Simulator tool here at WebSite101 to see how Google, Yahoo and MSN see your pages.
Discussion lists, forums and blogs about web marketing, search engine optimization have substantial, sometimes endless discussion of what works and what doesn’t in keywords metatags and many believe them entirely worthless. So I’ve put together a specialty search engine that looks only at the top 25 blogs by SEO’s and Official Search Engine Blogs so you can see for yourself what they each have to say about keyword meta tags. Ya gotta love technology like this! What do Search Engine Blogs and SEO Bloggers Say about Keyword Metatags? Just click that search button for only 9 results (as of this writing) from the top 25 Search Engine blogs and SEO bloggers. Most of those top 25 find it not worthy of discussion. Keyword meta tags are a miniscule issue and are of little use in ranking any more. Use them if you like, but don’t count on them helping your ranking at all.