Search Engine Watch
SEO News

Go Back   Search Engine Watch Forums > Search Engine Marketing Strategies > Search Engine Optimization
FAQ Members List Calendar Forum Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 05-05-2006   #1
jdog21
 
Posts: n/a
Are Meta Tags Still Necessary, Helpful?

Hello I am adding meta tags, I have copied someones who rankes hi on yahoo, they look like this

Quote:
<META NAME="description" content=" <specifics removed> ">
<META NAME="keywords" content=" <specifics removed> ">
<META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="1 day">
<META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
My questions is what are these parts of them...

Are they nessasary, what are their purpose?

<META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="1 day">
<META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

Thanks for any responses

Last edited by Marcia : 05-05-2006 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Specifics removed.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-05-2006   #2
KevinSource
 
KevinSource's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: CT
Posts: 102
KevinSource is on a distinguished road
First of all, it is not a good idea to copy anyone's content without their permission. It is copyright infringement.

The "revisit" is intended for robots to revisit the page everyday. Personally, I think it is unnecessary, and don't think it even works, but up to you. In addition, meta tags have little, if anything, to do with how your site will rank.
KevinSource is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2006   #3
evilgreenmonkey
 
evilgreenmonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London, UK
Posts: 703
evilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud ofevilgreenmonkey has much to be proud of
Hi jdog21,

I agree with what Kevin said about copying your competitors, you need to be creative and put some time into your own ideas.

As far as I'm aware, no search engines use "revisit-after" anymore, it was mainly conceived for the more primitive crawlers that were unable to tell either how regularly the content was updated or how important the content was. Setting it to "1 day" will simply be ignored and Googlebot will probably have a little chuckle to itself.

The tag "MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" is a preventative measure brought into place when Microsoft thought that Internet Explorer users would love to have keywords in any website's content linked through to either advertisers or MSN Search. As far as I'm aware the plan was scrapped or never got further then a flipchart, although many webmasters still implement the tag "Just In Case".

Kevin's post seems to suggest not using Meta Tags on your site, although I'm sure it's just the wayin which I'm reading it. Meta Data obviously has none of the influence that it used to over search engine rankings, although they should still be given attention under any comprehensive SEO strategy (especially the Description tag).

I hope this doesn't cause offence but you seem to be a first-timer at SEO jdog21, so you may want to read the beginner articles on this site and maybe invest in a good book before starting your project. Maybe Google "Aaron Wall"



Rob
evilgreenmonkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2006   #4
KevinSource
 
KevinSource's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: CT
Posts: 102
KevinSource is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Kevin's post seems to suggest not using Meta Tags on your site, although I'm sure it's just the way I'm reading it.
Yes, It's just they way you are reading it. What I said was that they have little, if anything to do with how your site will rank. I never suggested not using them. One reason they should still be used is that the meta description can sometimes show as the site description on some SE's
KevinSource is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2006   #5
mcanerin
 
mcanerin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,564
mcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond repute
Let's back up a step. evilgreenmonkey is correct.

This tag: <META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="1 day">

Is totally useless. It does nothing. It was invented by a search engine in BC, Canada to index BC sites back in 1994-6. No modern search engine supports it. In practice, one of the fastest ways to lose respect in the SEO community is to use this (and other tags like the vw96), since it clearly shows a lack of understanding of a basic technology.

Now, we are all here to learn, so this is a safe place to ask the question (thank you for asking before doing, BTW) . I asked it myself, when I first started.

First and foremost, you cannot issue a search engine an order. You can ask them to NOT do something, but you can't tell them to do something. So even back when this tag worked on that one search engine, what it said was to "go away and don't come back until at least 1 day", as opposed to "come back tomorrow". In practice, you don't want to be spending a lot of time as an SEO telling spiders to go away and not come back. What if it thought your site was great and wanted to come back in an hour? Good thing it doesn't work.

Some more info: http://www.seoconsultants.com/meta-t...isit-after.asp

Now, this tag:

<META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

Actually had a use. It told IE to not autolink text on your site to MSN related properties (for example, an address would be linked to a mapping software, and certain words would be linked to MS sites). This proved immensely unpopular and was abandoned in 2001, before it even got released. Therefore, although it had a purpose at one time (like the revisit tag) it is no longer useful, desired or meaningful. Lose it.

Some more info: http://searchenginewatch.com/serepor...le.php/2163981

For a list of actually useful metatags (and a metatag generator), I have a resource here you can use:

http://mcanerin.blogspot.com/2005_06...n_archive.html

In general, you can do SEO just fine with no other metatag than the description metatag, and even that is sometimes not used by the search engines. Google totally ignores the keyword metatag, and MSN, Yahoo, and Ask only look at it as a last resort.

Neither affect your rankings in any direct way, but, as KevinSource implied, it's good practice to use them, and I have some data that appears to show that the description meta has an minor, indirect benifit to some rankings. Not enough to do the job, but maybe enough to break a tie under some circumstances.

If you want a template, you can use this (note: this uses my companies "official" header order - there is no magic to the order, however, as long as it's in the header)

HTML Code:
McAnerin Networks Official Header Order

 Tags should be in lower case.
 The close of the metatags requires a space before the /> if you use the / for XHTML purposes (not necessary for HTML 4)
 Shortcut Icon is optional in HTML, but should exist on server anyway.
 The Base HREF tag should *not* normally be used, except on error pages and in some other cases. Skip it if you are not certain.

<!doctype html public ..">
<html lang="">
<head>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" ">
<title>.</title>
<base href="http://.....">
<meta name="description" content="">
<meta name="keywords" content="">
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://..">
<link rel="shortcut icon" href=http://..../favicon.ico>
<script type="text/javascript"......</script>
</head>
I've been known to add copyright for important documents (it doesn't dissuade thieves, but makes my case stronger in court) and, very rarely, robots (but only when I'm trying to tell a search engine to not do something - otherwise, the default is index,follow - so there is no need to add it for most pages).

One other thing - although it it not in any official specification anywhere, Yahoo, Google, MSN and Ask all support the "noarchive" attribute for the robots metatag, so I personally consider that to be useful on occasion, as well.

Finally, and this is just to stop you from having to listen to picky, anal-retentive HTML purists, a "Tag" is things like the title tag and the description meta-tag. An "Attribute" is an additional piece of information within a tag.

For example, in this case:

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow,noarchive">

This is a "robots" tag with a content attribute of "nofollow,noarchive".

The most common time people misuse this is when they talk about "alt tags" for images. There is no such thing as an "alt tag", it's an alt attribute for the img tag.

Yes, I've already had the argument, I lost and was convinced I was being sloppy in my writing, and now I'm passing on the information so you don't have to go through the same thing. You're welcome.

Hope that helps,

Ian
__________________
International SEO

Last edited by mcanerin : 05-08-2006 at 02:10 PM.
mcanerin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2006   #6
pleeker
www.SmallBusinessSEM.com
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Washington state
Posts: 295
pleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the rough
Great stuff, Ian - very comprehensive. Thank you. About this:

Quote:
In general, you can do SEO just fine with no other metatag than the description metatag
I have seen and heard people say that it's sometimes to your benefit to not even bother with the description metatag -- specifically if you want the search engine to use your actual page content for the snippet in the SERPs. And I have tested this on one site, and I can't refute what others have said. The site ranks as well as it should, and the on-page content is good enough that the snippets still (generally) make sense.

Any thoughts on ignoring all meta tags, including description? Any experiences pro or con?
pleeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2006   #7
mcanerin
 
mcanerin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,564
mcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond repute
Quote:
I have seen and heard people say that it's sometimes to your benefit to not even bother with the description metatag -- specifically if you want the search engine to use your actual page content for the snippet in the SERPs.
Part 1:

I disagree with those people. Vehemently.

The description is the second most powerful marketing tool in the SERP you have (after the title) and trusting Google to choose it seems wholly irresponsible to me.

I'm going to use "you" for this post, but it's not aimed at anyone in particular, just every person reading this in general. Yes, it's a rant.

No click through, no visitor. What is the use of ranking well if your description sucks so bad no one wants to click on it? Why drop the ball now that you've finally got the rankings?

This isn't about rankings, it's about sales and customers and ROI. Never let someone else sell your product for you, and sure as hell never let a stupid computer choose your sales copy! Your description is the first sales copy a potential visitor sees, after the title itself.

If you want the text in your page to be your snippet, then use that as your description. Don't trust it to chance.

Here is some research I did on how Google grabs the description:

http://mcanerin.blogspot.com/2005/05...-from-for.html

In short, the snippet is only grabbed if you don't have your keywords in your description.

Now, the snippet grab is fine for odd combinations of keywords that you page happens to come up for, but most SEO's actually know what they are optimizing for, no?

Google doesn't care about your business. Google is not interested in selling your products. Google does not care if anyone ever visits your site. That's your responsibility. To me, leaving it up to Google to choose your sales copy is a crazy and lazy.

Part 2:

Let's say that your site doesn't suck. Heck, let's say that it's actually a great site.

Maybe even so good that people might want to link to it. Imagine that!

Now, let's say a directory or other resource lists you. What will they use as a description? Well, if you've written a good one, they will use your description, won't they? I have a directory, and I know that's what I do, unless the description sucks or isn't there.

If you've written a bad one (or none at all) then they have to guess. What do you want to bet that they are not as interested as you are in your keywords? Anyone care to bet me? Didn't think so.

Here's a tip: Anchor text is NOT the only text that is taken into account for links. Surrounding text is, too. This helps deal with the infamous "click here" and "home" anchor text issue.

Admittedly, it's not nearly as good as linked anchor text, but it does help, I've tested it.

Many directories, especially the good ones, will not list your keyword stuffed title tag as the anchor text, but rather your firms actual name (DMOZ is an obvious example).

In this case, you might want to write a nice, well written description that includes one or more of your best keywords.

Not only will it probably be the description that is used in the SERP, but it may very well also be the originator of some keywords pointing to your site from authoritative directories. This will indirectly affect your rankings for those keywords.

Conclusion

Meta-data exists for a reason. The fact that it's been abused by spammers and newbs doesn't mean that reason is not still valid.

Never let a search engine control any part of your marketing that you can control yourself. They have quite enough control as it is, and they really don't (and can't) care about your business as much as you do.

If you don't believe that, try Googling "Mark Maughan". The Google text snippet made it look like he'd been kicked out of the accounting profession for wrong doing, even though the page in question actually said no such thing. Yes, he sued. Yes, he was stupid for doing so, but to be fair, no one likes it when a search for their good name comes up with very bad sounding text that was never actually written.

If it could do that, imagine how it could mangle your listings, if you are not careful. Even if the listings are not libelous, it's highly unlikely Google would choose the ones that make a potential visitor really get excited about your site. That's your job.

End of rant,

Ian
__________________
International SEO

Last edited by mcanerin : 05-08-2006 at 11:58 PM.
mcanerin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #8
pleeker
www.SmallBusinessSEM.com
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Washington state
Posts: 295
pleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the rough
Excellent rant, Ian! Thanks for taking the time to write in such detail ... I appreciate your thoughts and ideas.
pleeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #9
macdesign
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 63
macdesign is on a distinguished road
I'd also like to inflict a penalty on those too blind to use the description.

There are many reasons it should be there and I'm astounded on how many sites fail to use it, or have useless descriptions or seemingly random text if it is there.

For example, I use WSLINKS to create some niche directories. It grabs the meta descriptions as the starting point for the directory entry. I'm inclined to use it if it makes sense. All the sites that I add that failed to use the meta description lost an opportunity to influence how the site gets listed in my directories.
macdesign is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #10
jjspirko
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27
jjspirko has a spectacular aura aboutjjspirko has a spectacular aura about
I totaly agree with Ian.

When I do title and description tags I DO use key phrases I want to rank for and I put as much effort and thought into it as I would if I were.......now get this......

Writing the headline and description for a PPC ad.


Isn't it just silly that emarketers will spend lots of time tuning PPC ads to maximize qualified click thrus then turn around and say title and description tags don't matter?

I consider it nonsense!

1. If the title does not matter then the words in BLUE on the SERP don't matter.

2. If the description does not matter then the summary on the SERP doesn't matter.

3. Finally back to square one if that is true then the copy you use in your PPC marketing doesn't matter.

Anyone want to try to make a case for that last one? Not I!

Next on the key word tags, do they do anything, not much but to say NOTHING is a BIG statement. Given adding them while you do the title and description takes 20 seconds, given they help at least to demonstrait the page is unique content from the other pages on the site and given no one has ever made a case for them HURTING anything it just makes sense to include them.

Also while people say keyword tags do NOTHING I have created fake words, put them ONLY in the key word tag and both MSN and Yahoo found them. I did this about a year ago and can't recall what the nonsense word was or where I put the page but perhaps I should try it again just to see.

Yet on the title and description I think anyone advising a client that they "don't matter" is doing their client a disservice and I would personly never contract any firm that told me that,

Jack Spirko

Last edited by Marcia : 05-09-2006 at 05:51 PM.
jjspirko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #11
pleeker
www.SmallBusinessSEM.com
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Washington state
Posts: 295
pleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the rough
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjspirko
Isn't it just silly that emarketers will spend lots of time tuning PPC ads to maximize qualified click thrus then turn around and say title and description tags don't matter?
Hi Jack - the TITLE element is not a meta tag, and I don't think the discussion in this thread ever suggested not using a well-written TITLE element. I specifically referred to hearing some folks say you can get away with skipping the Description meta if the on-page content is really great.

Quote:
Also while people say keyword tags do NOTHING I have created fake words, put them ONLY in the key word tag and both MSN and Yahoo found them.
That's pretty much the extent of what you can expect from the keywords tag. G ignores it, and if you have some word or phrase that the page is about, but is not specifically mentioned in the page content itself, you can put that word or phrase in the Keywords meta and hope some good comes of it.

One of my recent uses of the Keywords meta was doing a client site that appeals only regionally. I listed the various city / town names in the Keywords, since those locations were not specifically discussed in the page copy.
pleeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #12
jjspirko
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27
jjspirko has a spectacular aura aboutjjspirko has a spectacular aura about
pleeker,

That said even if we take the title tag out of the discussion and just talk about description that would still be like running a PPC campaign and working on your headline but saying the additional two lines of copy, "don't matter".

Again I say anyone want to argue a case for doing that? Slap up a PPC ad and never worry about the copy because it just doesn't matter?

Now on the title tag issue I have seen MANY SEOs use the same title on every page and claim it did not matter. I also had many clients tell me their former SEO told them they did not need to bother with unique title tags or description tags back when I was on the agency side of this business.

While its true titles are not truely "meta data" it genneraly has been the case that when meta tags are discussed the title tag has been part of the discussion at least it has been in the 7 years I have been working in this area.

When an SEO or far more often a Web Design Company tells a client that title and description "don't matter" or "don't need to be unique on each page" I do indeed find it a huge disservice.

On the keyword tags and Google ignoring them, I agree. That said with MSN and Yahoo still pushing what? 30-40% of daily traffic should they really be ignored when the time investment is say 20-30 seconds a page?


Jack

Last edited by jjspirko : 05-09-2006 at 05:35 PM.
jjspirko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2006   #13
jjspirko
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27
jjspirko has a spectacular aura aboutjjspirko has a spectacular aura about
One more thing on the whole concept of what "matters"? To really answer it we need to define what matters means and what level of competitive SEO we are talking about.

Are you targeting a term like say "mortgage" where the top site has thousands of links all anchored with the term mortgage in them.

or

Are you working up a site with 20-30 pages, with each page targeting far less competitive terms that have been researched heavily in advance. Each phrase having a moderate ammount of traffic but a modest ammount of truely targeted competition.

In the second senario the on page factors including things like the title and descripton tags, not to mention things like link tags, image tags and H tags all have far more impact and "matter" a lot more.

Jack
jjspirko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2006   #14
raviverma
Ravi Verma
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 57
raviverma is on a distinguished road
Limitations of Meta Tags

The meta tags
<meta name="description" content="">
<meta name="keywords" content=""> have got their importance in SEO point of view.. It should be fine, if the description doesnot exceed 256 characters(including special characters) and the keywords donot go beyond 10.

Cheers

Last edited by Marcia : 05-10-2006 at 03:17 PM. Reason: No sig URLs, please.
raviverma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2006   #15
huebdoo
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Calgary Alberta Canada
Posts: 68
huebdoo is on a distinguished road
I would have to agree with the fact that the revisit and keywords metas are not ones I would suggest following up with

However the Description tag is still used and does come up in Google rankings when copy within the page is scattered or disrupted by Flash or Images.

Ignoring tools that can give you an edge is fool-hardy and sloppy. Bring everything to the table that can give you an edge (without going over the edge)

MSSmartTagsPreventParsing > I use but this is more a protectionist measure rather than a ranking measure ...

As for Description - USE IT USE IT USE IT - Many times this in conjunction with a good Title tag are all you have to make a first impression within a SERP.

Titles are most effective at 65 characters in length - with an additional 30 characters (including space) after the fact

Google will only present up to 65 characters in length in a SERP while IE for example shows a full 95 characters.

Description - I still maintain a 250 character limit (including spaces) and basically works as an abstract of what the page is about and I try not to Keyword stuff it, but work it in conjunction with the page copy, Title Tag and keywords that I have mapped to the page in my SEO strategy.

Long and short of it - Some Metas are still valuable in SEO as well as protection from parsing and should be still used when doing any SEO work for a client.
huebdoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2006   #16
kieranhawe
Senior Manager, Online Marketing
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Stamford, CT
Posts: 8
kieranhawe is on a distinguished road
My question is - if they dont hurt why not use them? It takes 5 minutes to create Meta Tags.

With that, there are SE out there who put some sort of value on Meta Tags - yes other SEO tactics are much more important and usefull but why wouldnt you cover ever base possible?
kieranhawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2006   #17
pleeker
www.SmallBusinessSEM.com
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Washington state
Posts: 295
pleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the roughpleeker is a jewel in the rough
Quote:
<meta name="keywords" content=""> have got their importance in SEO point of view
The Keywords tags is useless for ranking purposes, as we've discussed above. What Ian said about "last resort" is spot on. Jon Glick of Yahoo said back in 2004 that they look at it only for "matching" purposes, not for ranking.

Grehan interviews Glick

Quote:
Titles are most effective at 65 characters in length
65 characters or less
pleeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2006   #18
ewc21
Hong Kong SEO
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Hong Kong, China
Posts: 167
ewc21 is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by kieranhawe
My question is - if they dont hurt why not use them? It takes 5 minutes to create Meta Tags.

With that, there are SE out there who put some sort of value on Meta Tags - yes other SEO tactics are much more important and usefull but why wouldnt you cover ever base possible?
I still put meta keywords on my pages though I don't count on them for rankings anymore. Yup, some search engines (who are they by the way?) use them, because I just want to look at the keywords I am optimizing for that page and once I modify the content, it becomes handy for me to look at those keywords for reference..
ewc21 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-13-2006   #19
Phil Mac
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 17
Phil Mac will become famous soon enoughPhil Mac will become famous soon enough
Nice thread and top posts Ian and Top rant as well. Every client asks about Meta tags and questions there use and I agree the description tags all about traditional marketing skills.

Just a quick question anyone got any figures on how the html declaration effects the serp's.

Better to be w3c or not to be?
Phil Mac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2006   #20
mcanerin
 
mcanerin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,564
mcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond reputemcanerin has a reputation beyond repute
As long as the search engine can index the page without any problems, complete W3C compliance isn't an issue.

Of course, W3C compliance helps make sure that the search engine can index the page, so I recommend it. In some cases it's critical. In others, not so.

For example, not using image alt attribute (even of "") on your bullets would fail W3C check, but would not affect your rankings one bit. Not closing a <p> could kill your rankings under the right circumstance. So it's not the W3C as a whole, but the particular issue within the specification.

Talking specifically about the html doctype declaration, I went for years without one on many sites and had no problems ranking well.

Ian
__________________
International SEO
mcanerin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off