Friday, September 9, 2011

Calm Down - The Meta Tags are Coming!!!

Don't Panic!!! I'm going to talk a bit about HTML code. I said to stop panicking. Okay, take a big drink of water and calm down. These are simple pieces of code you can add to your website to make them more accessible to search engines. These are called META tags. Don't ask, I don't know why. Each of them begin with the word META. The two we will look at here are 'description' and 'keywords.' We will also talk about the 'title' tag.

These tags all go into the "head" section of the code. When you open up the code, you will see a lot of stuff that doesn't make much sense unless you know HTML. Even if you do know code, it can still look confusing because each programmer lays out their code differently.

Just look for the the tags <.Head> and <./Head> (Note: I added a period in front of these terms to keep the system from reading this as actual code. Remove the period before using any of these pieces of code. Better yet, type it in without the period.)

This is the place where you will place your Meta and Title Tags. Let's start with the Title.

The title tag is simple:

<.Title>Your Wonderful Title<./title>

The title should be descriptive and include at least one search term. So, if you have a site that reviews Science Fiction called Starry Eyed Observations, you could have this title tag:

<.Title>Starry Eyed Observations: Reviews of the Best in Science Fiction<./Title>

META tags have two parts: the identifier and the content. The Description tag looks like this:

<.META name="description" content="In about 15-25 words describe your website. Avoid any type of sales pitch, just describe what the reader will find.">

This description will sometimes show up in the search engines or at least part of it. Make the first few words the most descriptive since it may get cut off in the listing.

<.META name="description" content="Starry-Eyed Observations reviews Science Fiction books and websites. Features reviews of new Science Fiction books and interviews with Science Fiction authors.">  Yes, it is redundant. But I got in a main search term three times. Save the great writing for your website.

The second is the keyword meta tag. In this you will list all of the keywords and phrases that people are likely to use when searching for a site like yours. Don't repeat exact key words, but you can repeat those key words in phrases. Also consider including common misspellings.

<.META name="keywords" content="science fiction, science fiction novels, science-fiction, book reviews, book reveiws, interviews, interveiws, literature">

These should be included on each page and customized for each page. So, if one page has links to book reviews of your novel, then emphasize reviews in your description, title and keywords. If it is an excerpt, then emphasize literature, novel, etc.

Okay, breathe slowly. That wasn't too bad was it?


  1. Great post Terri,

    Wordpress has an area to fill in the header and description, but where would I put in the meta keywords?


  2. This was so interesting, Terri. Are you doing a workshop on this for the conference? If so, I'm signing up!

  3. Karen-- I'm not sure how to access the headers in Word Press. I do know Header and "description" will put in meta-tags for you. An alternate approach with blogging software is using tags or labels. But I'll look into it.

    Deb--- I'm doing a workshop on Social Media for Writers. I am working on a Search Engine Optimization course for my new web site. As with all the courses there will be a free version and two premium ones with the maximum cost being 15-20 for the top level.

  4. Alright, I'm trying not to panic. I use Concrete5. It has places to put in the title, description and keywords. It makes it all a *little* easier to deal with. I found your information helpful though, especially the part about being repetitive in your description. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Yes, Michelle, it is easier when you have that built into your system. A lot of web authoring software now has it built in. I don't know why they don't all do that.

    But hopefully, you learned a few "tricks of the trade."

  6. Thanks for the help!

    Cheryl D.

  7. Thanks again for this information. You took the scariness out of HTML.

  8. J.Q. Thanks for that. I hope that I can do more of that. I think the job of a teacher is to simplify the complex and demystify the mysterious. As a teacher, I want you to see the man behind the curtain.


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