Saturday, 23 August 2008

Basics of Web Site Optimisation - Rule 9

This post is mainly aimed at small to medium businesses that are just starting out and are keen to get something going, or have just gone live. I can't tell you how many times I have taught people over the past few years just a handful of strategically important things. So...here goes again, this time in a way that I can now simply refer to. As for my credibility - I would rather not divulge that here, read my Web Site Optimisation Rules and you decide. They are, after all, common sense, and common knowledge....like most things I blog about!

My number 9 rule: Use these 9 Meta Tags

These are probably "over kill" as far as Meta Tag usage is concerned, but I prefer this approach to lesser, until I learn something concrete that differs from my experience which has seen some rapid and sustained visitor rate growth where I applied them.

Place Meta Tags in all of your page header sections. There are smart tools for generating the content-related ones, but it is better if they fit into your whole marketing and supporting web site design approach, making them very manageable in a manual way on static web sites. On dynamic, use a clever algorithm to assist you in carefully crafted statements.

Make sure the web page content, including words, links, image names - everything where you can specify text, all aligns with the Keywords, Description and Abstract Meta Tags!

<META name="Keywords" content="[5 comma separated keywords that are present at least twice or more on the page!]">

<META name="Description" content="[enter a short statement containing as many of the keywords as possible]">

<META name="Date" content="[last update date]">
- NOT STRICTLY meta tag legitimate or required but I use it to track the date I last made a change to the page - and use this date to facilitate track which page version search engines have in their cache

<META name="abstract" content="[enter a short statement containing as many of the keywords as possible, possibly reusing the Description meta tag]">

<META name="revisit-after" content="[a number that is tuned to the amount of maintenance you do on the site - initially I use 7 because I perform so much tuning and generally I roll out content in a staged approach to ensure high quality and maintain control over the site's visitor growth] days">

<META name="rating" content="general">
- there are a number of options here for instance "adult", but I only use general

<META name="next" content="[choose or use your site metrics to research the next web page from your site that most visitors normally go to]">
- some web browsers (Firefox) will pre-cache the html page you specify here, making the user experience of your web site seem quicker, if they actually follow your "directions". Very difficult to get right without careful web site design, and if wrong actually wastes your visitors' bandwidth and makes their internet experience slower unnecessarily.

<META name="robots" content="index,follow">
- instruct search engines to index this web page, and follow all links on the page
- in the old days of restricted bandwidth, and depending on what I was marketing on the site, I would instruct the search engine to "noindex"

<META content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">
- very important to clarify to the web browsers what the page content is, and which character set is intended otherwise some foreign visitors could end up with strange symbols unintentionally, making your web site difficult to use

Reasoning:
1. By using Meta Tags at all the search engines will rank you higher
2. By using the correctly completed Meta Tags, the search engines will rank you even higher
3. They should repeat your key messages you are trying to convey to your visitors - they serve as a check point for detecting if your message is clear and the page is correctly aligned to achieve maximum impact at the search engines AND visitors
4. Search engine spiders, web crawling bots, web caching servers and even web site blocker software use the tags in their "decision" software to decide whether to analyse, cache, or allow the page to be displayed.

And that is my Rule 9. I will be uploading the others as time allows!

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