TaylorLovett

Meta Descriptions and Titles – What They Are, Why They’re Important, and How to Optimize Them

January 21, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

Meta descriptions and titles are probably the most important thing for SEO within the HTML of your site. These two tags allow you to have some control over how search engines like Google display your website.

What Are Meta Tags?

“Meta tags” refer to specific HTML tags that appear in the area of the page. Here is an example:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE> This is the Meta Title tag! </TITLE>
<META name=”description” content=”This is the meta description” />
</HEAD>

See how the title and description tags appear within the of the page? They will only work if placed in that area. From the standpoint of someone viewing your website, the meta description tag is completely invisible (unless they view source code), it is used exclusively by search engines. The title tag can actually be seen by your viewers in the browser bar at the very top of your screen. There is also the meta keywords tag, but this tag is ignored by most major search engines (Google included). Right now we are going to focus on the two most important meta tags for SEO, the meta description and title tags.

Google places great importance on meta description and title tags when your website is being indexed. The following is a screen shot from a Google search:

Taking advantage of these tags gives you a huge advantage over your competitors. Having worked with many small businesses as an SEO consultant, the vast majority of people do not make use of these tags. Clients pay me thousands of dollars to get their website on the first page of Google for specific keywords; sometimes all it takes is making good use of their meta tags! Which leads me to the next thing I want to tell you…

How to Optimize Meta Tags

You’re going to be surprised at how simple this really is. First I want to introduce the concept of relevancy. You want your website to be as relevant as possible to the keywords you are targeting for Google searches. Keywords in certain areas of your website are given more weight than others. The most prominent area on your website for keywords are your meta description and titles tags. So you want to make sure every single page on your site has these tags. Also every meta description and title tag should be unique otherwise Google might flag your website for duplicate content (this was discussed in an earlier email I sent you). That being said, here are the guidelines I follow when optimizing my clients’ meta tags:

  • Make sure every single page on the website has unique meta description and title tags.
  • Make sure every meta title tag is no longer than 60 characters in length and every meta description no longer than 160 characters in length.
  • Fill each meta description and title tag with as many relevant keywords as possible.
  • Make each meta description and title tag describe the page very closely. This means I don’t just stuff them full of keywords; I actually make sure they all make sense and are relevant to their page.

How to Optimize Meta Tags in WordPress Websites

If you are running WordPress, optimizing your meta tags is MUCH easier. There are tons of plugins that allow you to edit the meta description and title tag without having to know HTML. I use All-In-One SEO on all my clients’ websites.With All-In-One SEO, each post and page editor contains a box near the bottom that allows you to easily change the meta tags. This plugin even shows a live count of how many characters your meta description and title tags are currently at! WordPress is great for SEO and makes it very easy to insert keywords throughout your site. Just remember that each page, post, category, and archive actually have their own web pages so don’t forget to optimize all their meta tags.

Google XML Sitemaps – Free SEO Points

January 10, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

An XML Sitemap is a list of pages on your website (not readily visible to humans) that is formatted in such a way that helps Google index pages on your site that it might not find otherwise. Your Sitemap can even specify how long before the content changes on each page so Google knows when to come back and reindex. This has HUGE value for SEO.

Do any of the following apply to your website? (This list is pulled directly from the Google help page on Sitemaps)

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren’t easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process—for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn’t well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

If so, you definitely need an XML Sitemap. Have you every seen video content when searching on Google? You can create an XML video Sitemap for Google that will allow your video content to be disabled on the Google search page. In my personal experience with SEO, Google, and small business websites, XML Sitemaps have been an invaluable tool. Most people don’t know what they are and often pay me to do SEO work. One of my SEO “secrets” is to install the XML Google Sitemaps Plugin on my clients websites. My clients usually see results within a few days from using that plugin! Crazy, huh?

Download and install the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin for WordPress

SEO Techniques for Bing

July 16, 2010 by Taylor Lovett

In the field of SEO, Google’s search engine dominates the market. But what about other search engines? Yahoo and Bing, despite not being as popular as Google, can still send your website massive amounts of traffic. Many of the on page and off page search engine optimization techniques are the same for all search engines, but some search engines place more weight than others in certain areas. Bing, Microsofts replacement for MSN, heavily favors sites that have proper validating HTML code. Off-page, Bing favors sites that utilize social networking and social bookmarking sites. Bing also likes sites that link to lots of relevant external sites.

Heres in interesting article on SEO techniques for Bing:
On-page and Off-page Bing SEO Techniques

Strange Google XML Sitemaps Error Fixed

June 24, 2010 by Taylor Lovett

Today, I installed the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. I configured the plugin accordingly then directed my browser to http://taylorlovett.com/sitemap.xml to see my newly built sitemap. I was confronted with the very ugly error:

Error loading stylesheet: An unknown error has occurred (805303f4)

http://www.taylorlovett.com/wp-content/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/sitemap.xsl

After some searching on Google, I found others having the same issue but no definite solution. It seemed that directing my browser to http://www.taylorlovett.com/sitemap.xml worked fine but http://taylorlovett.com/sitemap.xml did not. I figured out the problem was that in my General Settings page my WordPress address (URL) was set to http://www.taylorlovett.com/sitemap.xml and my Site address (URL) was set to http://taylorlovett.com/sitemap.xml. After changing them both to the exact same URL, the problem was solved!