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Search Engine Secrets: Using Tags

Search Engine Secrets: Using Tags


In your web pages, there are hidden areas of the page that the casual browser doesn't see, but that the search engines sure do. These are called tags, and come in two basic types: first the header tags, which are found at the top of web pages, and second the heading tags, which mark the parts of your text in the page that will be used as titles and subtitles in articles. One other form of tag, alternate text, should be filled out as well.

Header Tags

Most of the tags in your header are called metatags or meta tags; they apply to the entire page and, in HTML, are at the top of your document. In graphic web page design tools like Frontpage or Dreamweaver, if you right-click and select page properties, you'll find these in the first tab that opens.

When the web first opened to the public, metatags were a critical tool enabling the primitive spiders and search engines of that time to determine how to catalog a page. The idea was that you'd tell the spiders where your page was supposed to be catalogued by how you filled in your metatags, and they'd ensure you were listed properly.

It took very little time indeed before this mechanism was used to rank less-worthy pages higher in the search engines. Today, metatags aren't as important as they were then because they're so easy to manipulate; you should still, however, fill them out. They can't hurt, and in many search engine constructs they're useful for identifying what your keyword is intended to be.

Title Tags are the most important of the metatags. Whatever you put here shows up in the header bar of your web page, at the top of the window. It should always start with your keyword so it's clear what you are targeting. Short titles are better, and a very natural style is ideal – no spamming by repeating your keywords over and over.

Description Tags are also important. Start with your keyword or keyword phrase, and describe what your site is about. The content of these tags is often pulled out in search engines and directories to describe your site, so make it concise and precise, and use complete sentences with good spelling and grammar.

The keyword tag should list only keywords you actually mention on your web page. If you use other keywords, some search engines consider it spamming, and will downgrade your page.

Metatags should be focused specifically on the page, not on the site as a whole. Consider each page when you design metatags.

Other Tags In Your Document

Image alternate text or image descriptions should always be filled out; if you're using a graphic web design tool, right-click on the image and answer the questions in the box. Use your keywords in the alternate text, and if the image is something you're selling be certain you give it a proper name. This enables the specialized image search engines to find your images.

The H1-H6 tags in your document should always contain your keyword once. Search engine spiders pay special attention to these containers, which hold your text titles and subtitles. They may not give you a huge boost, but anything counts in the search engine derby.


About the Author

Mark Lawson is the webmaster for a leading UK Web Design Service Please feel free to republish this article together with working hyperlinks.


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