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Exact Words In Description Tag
Posted 24 September 2003 - 03:12 AM
I've finished reading Shari Thurow's "Search Engine Visibility" (highly recommend it). She comments that most search engines consider it spam if you have words in your meta-tag description that you do not have on your actual web page. She gave the extreme example of putting the keyword 'Disney' in the tag for a pornographic site.
I definitely don't want to do anything that would be considered spam, both out of personal conviction and out of concern for the client, and I've been quite concerned about this. Let's say I'm writing a description for a hotel page. I may use the word 'vacation' in my description but -oh,no-that word wasn't on the actual page. Obviously any human reader would recognize that it's not spam, but will the spiders?
Posted 24 September 2003 - 04:22 AM
I haven't read Shari Thurow's "Search Engine Visibility", which you seem to like, so I can't comment on exactly what is said there. I'm just going by common sense.
I'm never sure when someone says something whether it is an opinion or is backed up by strong testing and can therefore be said to be proven. The search engines are changing and tweaking their algorithms all the time so what may be a truth last month may no longer be true this month.
In this case, I would wonder whether a test was done before making the statement. I'm not even sure how easy it would be to do a test.
Personally I have a hard time believing it's true as stated. I can't believe one word Disney put in the description and not in the web page text could be deemed to be spamming. It would have as much logic as to say that words in link text in backlinks that are not repeated in the web page are spamming. This is not the view held strongly in the long debates currently going on about link reputation versus web page content.
Luckily the current wisdom seems to be that description doesn't figure in the Google search algorithm so I presume that at least for Google it cannot be spamming.
Posted 24 September 2003 - 04:42 AM
Posted 24 September 2003 - 04:58 AM
I know Shari quite well, having met her a few times and corresponded via email now and again. We have co-presented the "Successful Site Architecture" session at Search Engine Strategies London for the past two years. And I have a signed copy of her book. So I assume you are looking at the bottom of p75.
I've finished reading Shari Thurow's "Search Engine Visibility" (highly recommend it). She comments that most search engines consider it spam if you have words in your meta-tag description that you do not have on your actual web page.
Shari definitely does her research. She is also very forthright in her opinions, giving clear and unequivocal advice designed for her target audience. If you follow Shari's advice on meta tags, you almost certainly won't get into trouble.
The downside of general-purpose unequivocal advice is that it cannot take specific instances into account. In your specific case, of course it is acceptable to put the word "vacation" into your meta description tag for a hotel. Note that you are unlikely to rank for any word purely because that word exists in your meta description tag, though, so the lack of the word "vacation" in your actual body copy may be a problem for you.
Posted 24 September 2003 - 06:55 AM
Using your example for a Hotel and the word "Vacation". If I was faced with this dilemma, I would first see If I could make a sentence to add to the copy that contained the word.
Failing that I would try to create a short heading, for a paragraph without a heading, in a sort of promotional style like "Take a Vacation at Hotel Name".
Posted 24 September 2003 - 07:10 AM
It is my opinion that using the word "vacation" for a hotel site would not be considered spam. The word is common and related to what hotels are involved with.
Unlike the porn spam example (Disney when NOTHING on the page has ANYTHING to do with Disney), "vacation" does, in fact, relate.
However, if you want to be sure, email Shari. Her email address is on the about us page of her site at Grantastic Designs.
That would probably be better than all of us guessing what she is saying, ya know?
Posted 24 September 2003 - 07:29 AM
Plus, if you make sure that the words you're using in the tag are on the page, you will never have to worry about being penalized for spamming.
That said, unless something was blatantly misleading like the Disney/porn thing, I would think that it would be highly unlikely that words in a Meta description tag will get you banned.
Speaking of Shari Thurow, look for part one of Scottie's San Jose interview with her in today's Advisor, scheduled to come out early this evening (if I ever get out of the forum and start writing my part!).
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