Improve Searchability with Meta Tags

META tags are ways to include information about the information in your page. These tags can describe the content (information) contained on your page.

META tags live inside the HEAD section of your document. If you fill in the Dreamweaver title box or FrontPage page properties to set the title of a page, then your HTML editor will probably place the META tags in the correct place in the HTML code as well.

META tags have a couple of flavors (that we're concerned about). These are:

  • NAME
  • HTTP-EQUIV

Each of these has a use.

The NAME element gives you a flexible way to put descriptive information into your page. Remember, though, that this information is only seen by search engines or other programs that can deal with this. Users won't see this directly.

Examples:

<META NAME="description" content="This is the page that has won several awards for the best grammatical examination of the Bulgarian language in the world.">
  • When the above tag is used and the page comes up in a search results screen, the description will show under the title of the page. If there is no description meta tag, the search results show the first 255 characters of the page.
<META NAME="keywords" content="Bulgarian language, award, grammatical, examination, Bulgaria, Bulgar">
  • The Keywords should be separated by commas. If the keyword is a phrase (Bulgarian language), that will be indexed as a phrase, if the search engine understands phrases. Single word keywords are better, but some two-word phrases shouldn't hurt anything. So if I go to a search engine and type in "Bulgaria language grammatic*", my page would pop to the top of the hit list, and I would see this: Bulgarian Language for the Traveler: This is the page that has won several awards for the best grammatical examination of the Bulgarian language in the world.

Remember to use words and phrases your audience will use, such as teacher, college, and dorms.

In addition to meta tags, there are several other elements of your page that increase the potential of search engine higher rankings.

Titles

Having each page titled specific to the content is important to search engine ranking. Include the words University of Northern Colorado in the title, such as Housing Move-in Day at the University of Northern Colorado. It's labor intensive but essential to search results.

Word in the page

Words from the description, keywords and title repeated in the content of the page, such as Moving in, Housing, University of Northern Colorado, will increase the effectiveness of your overall search optimization.

Alt tags

Use your common keywords in your alt tags since search engines also read these. For example, the alt tags of images on a Move-in Day page might read "students moving into halls at the University of Northern Colorado".

Do not repeat

Do not use the same title, keywords or description on multiple pages; some search engines will ignore the pages all together.

Heading tags

Search Engines look for proper heading tags, such as one heading 1 tag only and heading 2, 3 and 4 tags as appropriate. If a page has multiple heading 1 tags, it is penalized in search rankings.