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How to Write Metadata (Titles, Descriptions, and Keywords ) for Optimal Visibility PDF Print E-mail
Written by Randall Reiserer   
Saturday, 11 October 2008 01:47
A lot of folks overlook metadata when writing online materials, but these sources of information are extremely important for getting visitors to the materials you post online.

Metadata, also called metadata tags or meta tags, are data about data, and appear as lines of code in the <head> section of your web page or article. For example, the following meta tags are specified for this page:

<meta name="title" content="How to Write Metadata (Titles, Descriptions, and Keywords ) for Optimal Visibility" />

<meta name="description" content="Make sure your blogs and articles are optimized for search engines to drive traffic to your online materials." />

<meta name="keywords" content="search engine optimization, driving traffic to your website, seo, search engine friendly, keyword phrases, how to write metadata, meta tags, metadata tags, metadata, rank your content higher, most important meta tags, title, description, keywords, optimized websites, specifying keywords, blog, artiles, website, google" />


When writing a blog on Open2it, you need not worry about the form of the code, because the tags are generated automatically for you. What you do have to concern yourself with is how the information contained in these tags is presented.

The three most important meta tags are those shown above, the title, description, and and keywords. There are other metadata tags that are less important, such as the author tag, but they are generally less important for search engine optimization (SEO), and they are not covered here.

The title tag is perhaps the most important meta tag when it comes to search engines and SEO. Search engines use the title as the primary descriptor of an article's content. Some authors like to use catchy titles that don't convey much about their articles, but one should weigh the pros and cons of this practice. While catchy titles can be best for enticing a reader (someone who has found your content) through wit or humor, titles that contain keywords and keyword phrases (see below) are better for driving traffic to your website or article. A balance should be struck between search engine friendly and reader friendly title constructions.

If you must use a catchy title, you have a fall back. The description tag is used to supply a short summary of the content of your article or page. Some search engines use the description as a secondary descriptor of your content, but it is generally given less importance for generating search results than the title.  It has to be short (1-3 brief sentences), so it needs to be carefully written. It should convey information that your title does not cover and it should complement your title because it will often appear with the title in search results.  Google supplies a couple of lines of the description after the title, and this text can be very important in getting users to click through to your posted materials. The description should be as rich in keywords and keyword phrases as possible.

Keywords—a comma delineated list of search terms—are quite important and you should take care to put them in order from most to least important. Search engines often rank the first keywords as most important, so if your article is about the beauty of fractal images, you would not want the keyword phrase "fractal images" to appear tenth in your keyword list. It should appear first or second, depending upon the importance of other keywords.  Keywords include keyword phrases and these multi-word keywords are often more effective than single keywords for driving traffic to your website or article. This is an important point, so I will address it at some length.

Say you write that article about the beauty of fractal images and you choose to structure your key words as follows:
 
fractals, beauty, images, galaxies, art, computers, computer generated art, fractal images
 
Structuring your keywords like this, you are likely to be very disappointed with the traffic you see from search engines. The first six keywords are practically useless because there are so many other articles and web pages that compete for rankings using these search terms. When writing key words, put yourself at the desk of your potential viewers, those searching for content on your topic. If you are searching for an article on fractal images, your search string will probably include the exact phrase "fractal images." By placing that keyword phrase first in your keyword list, you have greatly improved the odds that your article will be found by someone searching specifically for an article like yours. Specific keyword phrases narrow the possibility that people searching for unrelated materials will stumble upon your article, but then again these people are not likely to read it anyway because they are searching for something else. On the other hand, specific keyword phrases rank your content higher—compared to pages with a lot of single keywords—when someone types in that exact search string. By specifying keywords that are likely to be search strings, you improve your chances of drawing the attention of those who will actually read your article.

It is vital that you understand that keywords and keyword phrases must actually appear in the body of your article.  They are worthless if they don't.  Goggle and other search engines ignore keywords and phrases that do not appear somewhere in your text. They must at least appear in your title or description, but it is best to lift them directly from your article body. Because of this text-keyword correlation, it is important to write articles with your keywords in mind. The more times a keyword or keyword phrase appears in your article, the more relevant it is to search engines.

The best optimized websites and articles are those that include repetition of specific keyword phrases, which are listed first in the keywords list. Phrases containing two words are better than single keywords, and those of three words can be even better than two word phrases. It all depends upon how likely it is that someone will type in that exact phrase.  Keyword phrases of four or more words can be either great or terrible. For example, the phrase "how do i build a tree house" might be a really great keyword phrase, while "the methods for constructing tree dwellings" will likely never get a hit. Obviously judgment is required in specifying keywords.

If there are common misspellings of words that you use in your text, there is a trick you can use to get those poor spellers to your article. simply append a list of misspellings to the end of your article prefaced by phrasing similar to the following: "These common typos are appended to improve search efficiency." Incidentally, one can also add correctly spelled key words in this same way. As long as none of the additional keywords can be construed as an attempt to spam, readers don't mind that they are appended. The important thing is to keep them relevant to your article and use them only as an honest way to help your audience find what they are looking for.

A last note, searches are usually typed in all lowercase, so it is best to use all lowercase in your keywords. Most search engines ignore case, but some do not.  For those that don't, using lowercase keywords will direct more traffic to your content than using initial capitals. I always change initial caps to lowercase when copying keywords from my text.
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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 October 2008 17:20