Metadata for Web Searches|
Metadata helps search engines find, index, and rate the information people are looking for.
Metadata vs Meta Tags
It's important to note the distinction between metadata and Meta tags.
Metadata (i.e. key words and phrases) helps search engines find and rate search results. Meta tags, on the other hand, don't help much for Web search rankings, but can be important:
- in describing the page in search results (Description Meta tag), and
- in finding the best page from 'internal' search engines (Keywords Meta tag) - if the internal search engine gives extra weight to Meta tag contents.
Search engines use the content of Web pages (i.e. headings and body text) to find the key words and phrases that readers are looking for.
Make sure content includes key words, but don't go overboard. In the end, pages are designed for readers, not for search engines.
Keywords Meta Tag
Search engine support for the Keywords Meta tag started fading about 1996, and was almost gone by 1998. None of the major search engines today support the Keywords Meta tag. Google, for instance, never has.
However, if a site's internal search engine is designed to give extra weight to words in the Keywords Meta tag, properly developed Keywords Meta tags can help readers find the information they need:
- Use different versions of key words. For example, if the page is about apprenticeships, don't just use apprenticeship, include apprentice, apprentices, and apprenticeships as well.
- Always include plurals of key words when you can.
- Don't just cut and paste words from one page to another without checking them in relation to each page.
- Include common misspellings. American English is the worst offender, so keep an eye out for common corruptions (eg. organization), and include them in the Keywords Meta tag.
(See the SearchEngineWatch article, Death of a Meta Tag, for more in-depth information on the decline of the Keywords Meta tag.)
Description Meta Tag
The Description Meta tag allows us to have some say in the description that displays in search results. All search engines make some use of the Description Meta tag, although some may not use all of it, and others may add details.
For example, the Description Meta tag for the Nikola Tesla page at the Pioneers site is:
|<Meta Name="Description" Content="Nikola Tesla, the eccentric genius known as the 'wild man of electronics', was without doubt one of the greatest minds in history. Admittedly, he also had more loose screws than a mechano set.">|
|Google, AOL Search, MSN Search|
Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943)
Nikola Tesla, the eccentric genius known as the 'wild man of electronics', was without doubt one of the greatest minds in history.
www.kerryr.net/pioneers/tesla.htm - 17k - Cached - Similar pages
|Yahoo, Alta Vista, All The Web|
Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943)
Nikola Tesla, the eccentric genius known as the wild man of electronics', was without doubt one of the greatest minds in history. Admittedly, he also had more loose screws than a mechano set. ... Links. Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943) Nikola Tesla, the eccentric - and unbelievable underrated - genius ... Austro-Hungary (now Croatia) in 1856, Tesla constructed his first induction motor ...
www.kerryr.net/pioneers/tesla.htm - 16k - Cached - More from this site - Save -
Use the Description Meta tag to include key words and phrases that sum up the theme and content of the page.
- Keep sentences short, but descriptive.
- Ensure the most important metadata appears in the first sentence, preferably in the first few words.
In a list of search results, titles are shown out of context. Make sure they can stand on their own.
Confronted with a large return list from a search, readers won't examine each result. They'll scan/scroll through the titles. If our title doesn't include the word(s) they're looking for, they'll click on to the next page of results.
Search engines may cut off titles if they're too long. Keep titles to a maximum of 8 words to be sure they'll display the way you want them to.
Search engines can't search information in images. If images (diagrams etc.) include key words and phrases, include those words and phrases in the Img tag using the Alt attribute:
|<img src="employ_stats.gif" width="250" height="250" alt="Employment statistics for the year 2002.">|
Most search engines support Alt text, including Google, although All The Web does not.
Metadata in Web Content Writing With Hypertext
Metadata In Web Headings