May 8, 2002
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Pesky Meta Tags and New Features
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> The Meta Keyword Tag
*This Week's Sponsor:
----> AltaVista's Web Marketing Services
*Other SEO News:
----> Yahoo! Search Once Again Ranked as No. 1
----> InfoSpace's New Meta-Search
----> Google's Disapproval
*Stuff You Might Like
----> Step-By-Step(tm) Copywriting Course
----> Real Life Seminar, Anyone?
Welcome to another issue of the Advisor!
I've received five or six emails this week asking about that pesky
little Meta Keyword tag. I'm amazed that the myth of this tag is
still alive and well and living in many people's brains (and
apparently their sites too!). So, I've dusted off my old Meta Keyword
Article, spiffed it up a bit and am republishing it here for you to
learn once and for all what this tag is all about.
Also, this week I've added a new section called "Stuff You Might
Like." This may or may not become a weekly feature; but either way, be
sure you check it out today because I'm not kidding about this being
stuff you might like! Also, if you've got stuff that others might
like, send it on over to me with "Stuff You Might Like" in the subject
line, and I'll check it out when I have time. Who knows, maybe your
stuff will show up in a future issue! (Please don't send me garbage
though. If I get a lot of that, I may have to make another new
section called "Stuff You Won't Like," and I'm sure you wouldn't want
it to be featured there!)
On to the good stuff! - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
+++The Meta Keyword Tag+++
Can the Meta Keyword Tag Bring High Rankings to my Site?
Everyone knows that to obtain high search engine rankings all you have
to do is put the keywords that you want to rank high with into your
Meta Tags, right?
Not even close!
If it were that simple, I'd certainly be out of work. How many of you
reading this have obsessed over your Meta Tags in the hope that it
would bring you high rankings? How many of you have tried putting
every relevant keyword you could think of into this Meta Tag only to
have your site continue to be nearly invisible to the search engines?
How many of you couldn't decide if you should put commas between the
keywords? Spaces? No commas? ALL CAPS? Plurals? Have you wondered if
you should use the same Meta Tags on every page? I do believe that I
see a whole lot of hands going up out there! (Yes, I'm psychic!)
Don't worry; I'll get to all that in a moment. First, I want to show
you the HTML code of this tag, in case you're not familiar with it.
The Meta Keyword Tag is usually placed beneath the Title and Meta
Description Tags in the HEAD section of your pages' HTML code, as
(Please note that I added a dot [.] in the code so you can view it in
all email programs. You'll need to remove the dot if you copy this
code for your site.)
<.TITLE>Your Descriptive Keywords Title Goes Here<./TITLE>
<.META NAME="DESCRIPTION" CONTENT="Your keyword-rich marketing
description goes here.">
<.META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="your keyword phrases,go here,separated
by a comma,but not a space">
If the Keyword Meta Tag were a child, it would be put into a foster
home due to all the abuse it has received over the years! Once upon a
time, in the prehistoric days of the Internet (1995?), Meta Keyword
Tags were a great little tool for the search engines to help them
determine how to rank sites in their search results.
However, as always happens with anything this simple, the tag began to
get abused. People (spammers) put keywords into the Meta Tag that had
nothing to do with the content of their site. Because they knew lots
of people were searching for things like "sex" for instance, they'd
put that word in their Meta Tags a number of times in hopes of
bringing in visitors, even though their site had nothing to do with
sex! Personally, I don't quite understand that logic, because if it
worked (it didn't), it would bring in highly untargeted visitors.
Remember, all traffic is not created equal. The goal of any search
engine optimization campaign is to bring in highly targeted traffic
from those seeking exactly what you've got!
Over time, less and less weight was given to this poor abused Meta
Tag, and more and more weight was given to the visible content of the
pages. (For the record, content was always given more weight than
Meta Tags.) Today the Meta Keyword Tag is quietly living in its foster
home and is fairly irrelevant to getting found in the search engines.
If you were pressed for time and had to give up one Meta Tag, this
would be the one to give up. To be sure, some engines still do index
the words within this tag (most notably, Inktomi and AltaVista), but
they use it as a very minor supplement to the words in the body copy
and the Title Tag of your page.
Should I Bother with Meta Keyword Tags?
Since the search engines use a wide variety of factors to determine
site rankings, optimizing pages to rank high is a cumulative effort.
Therefore, you should certainly use every legitimate optimization
technique available, including the Meta Keyword Tag. At best, it may
help boost your site a bit in those engines that still read them. At
worst, it won't hurt your rankings (unless you brazenly stuff them
full of keywords). If you are going to use them, make sure you use a
different Meta Keyword Tag for each unique page of your site. The
content on each page is different; therefore your Meta Tags should
also be different.
What Should I Put in This Meta Tag?
First let's recap what needs to be done *before* you ever attempt to
create your Meta Keyword Tag:
1. Keyword research through WordTracker
<http://our.affiliatetracking.net/wordtracker/af.cgi?28> to find
keyword phrases that people are actually searching for. (That's my
affiliate link to WordTracker.)
2. Choose two or three relevant keyword phrases to focus on for each
page of your site.
3. Write or rewrite the site's copy based on your chosen keyword
4. Create a unique Title Tag for each page using the same keyword
phrases your copy was based on.
5. Create a unique Meta Description Tag for each page as a marketing
sentence, also based on your chosen keyword phrases for that
When everything is in place, creating your Meta Keyword Tags is now a
snap! (If you skip any of the steps above, your Meta Keyword Tags
will be fairly useless, so don't cheat!)
I usually start this tag out by first entering the keyword phrases I
used in my Title Tag. Then I comb through each paragraph of visible
copy on the page, note any important "bonus phrases" and copy & paste
them into the Meta Keyword Tag field. Since you shouldn't generally
have misspellings in your visible copy, you can add them to this Meta
Tag. I happen to separate the individual phrases with a comma and no
space, but that's just my preference. Using no commas at all in this
tag is basically the same thing, and perfectly acceptable since most
engines appear to treat commas as a space. (If you get nothing else
out of this article, please understand that you shouldn't obsess over
the age-old comma or no comma debate!)
What About Keyword Repetition?
Another common abuse of Meta Keyword Tags was -- and still is -- the
repetition of words. Spammers found that if they repeated keywords
enough times, the search engines would "think" they were relevant to
the page and perhaps give it a high ranking for those words. Because
of this abuse, too much repetition can now hurt you rather than help
you. A good rule of thumb is never to insert the same word twice in a
row in this tag, even if you're using different variations, and even
if a comma separates them. (Variations include plurals, ALL CAPS,
different tenses, etc.)
That's all there is to it. If everyone treated this Meta Tag with the
respect it deserves, and put only relevant keywords into it, perhaps
we could get it out of its foster home and back to its rightful place
in the family of Meta Tags!
GET INTO THE ALTAVISTA INDEX QUICKLY AND EASILY
AltaVista proudly announces the best way to manage your site!
AV's Web Marketing Services programs ensure opportunities
for fast URL inclusion, highly qualified traffic, guaranteed freshness
& detailed reporting - all designed to set your Web site apart from
the pack. Add enhancements to drive traffic to your most important
pages today! See: <http://ilib.com/!sd0304/www.altavista.com/addurl>
~~~Other SEO News~~~
++Yahoo! Search Once Again Ranked as No. 1++
Apparently I rate as "press" these days...how cool. I just received a
press release from our old friends at Yahoo! stating that Yahoo!
Search once again ranked as the No. 1 Internet search destination in
the U.S., according to the Nielsen/NetRatings' MarketView report
issued in April 2002.
I guess not everyone has heard of Google yet. Give it time, Yahoo!
old girl, give it time...
++InfoSpace Launches a New Meta-Search Product at Excite++
In other news, InfoSpace (which now owns Excite) just launched some
sort of new meta-search product. But since I read somewhere it has
something to do with those LookSmart rascals, I don't really give a
hoot. (Feel free to substitute your own nasty word for hoot!)
However, if you give a hoot, you can learn more about what they're up
to here: <http://www.businesswire.com/insp/index-ep.shtml>.
++Google's Disapproval - I'm so Ashamed++
Every time I get a great ad going in Google AdWords, one that gets
tons of clickthroughs at a decent (low) clickthrough price, the Google
Gods come along and disapprove my ad. What's up with that? I
understand they have editorial guidelines, especially now that they're
being shown over at AOL, but puhleeze, Google...don't tell me that
you're disapproving my ad because it won't bring me targeted
customers. I ain't that stoopid, ya know!
~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++Step-By-Step(tm) Copywriting Course++
Well, guys...I think we've hit the jackpot! I've stumbled onto
something that I *know* many of you are gonna find useful. Since so
much of search engine optimization is in the writing, it's no surprise
that many of you reading this are copywriters and copywriter wannabes.
For you, I've got a special treat! I've spent the past couple of
weeks reading Karon Thackston's brand-new copywriting course, and
boy-oh-boy is it a winner! Karon spent five long months putting down
on virtual paper everything that she's learned in her 17 years as a
veteran copywriter. In fact, she told me that the hardest part was
consciously making note of what comes naturally to her when she
writes. I understand that perfectly, as that's the same thing I do
when writing or speaking about search engine optimization. But, man,
when you can get that natural process stuff down on paper, it really
makes for killer material, and a great learning experience!
The major focus of the course is online copywriting, since Karon's
been into that since 1995. However, all types of copywriting are
discussed, including search engine optimization copywriting.
The course itself is actually a jam-packed, 105-page .pdf file, which
could be read as a book if you wanted to be lazy and just learn the
basics. (I admit, that's how I read it, but that's because I hire
people who already know this stuff to do my copywriting!) However, if
you're serious about learning how to write great copy, you should take
the course in the manner in which it was intended. That is, read all
the lessons and really try to complete the assignments. You've gotta
use your own willpower for that one though, since no teacher will be
standing over your shoulder waiting for you to hand it in!
What I like best about this course/book are the real world examples
Karon uses. She doesn't just *tell* you how to write great copy; she
explains why certain techniques work and why others don't, and
provides stunning examples to back it all up. In fact, her writing
samples were so good that I'm seriously thinking about signing up for
some of the services she wrote about (a personal coach was one that
sticks out in my mind -- if only I wasn't such a procrastinator!).
And that, my friends, is the crux of what Karon will teach you, if you
decide to give the course a spin: how you too can write copy in a way
that truly entices people to take action. Wish I could tell you that
you could download the course for free, but writers gotta eat too ya
know! The good news is that it's priced extremely low at only $59.77.
A whole heck of a lot cheaper than if you signed up for a copywriting
course at a University or Business School, and most likely, a whole
heck of a lot better!
Anyway, here's the link for more info and/or to purchase the entire
course: </copywritingcourse>. And yes,
this happens to be an affiliate link, and yes, I'd be recommending it
whether or not I signed up to be an affiliate. I promise you that I
would never, ever recommend something that I didn't personally believe
was first-rate. You have my word on that! These affiliate link
thingees simply help me cover the cost for my subscriber list host,
proofreading, web hosting, etc.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you. I just noticed that Karon has a
money-back guarantee - so there you go...you've got nothing to lose!
(There's also a whole bunch of bonus stuff that comes with the course,
which I didn't have time to check out.)
You know, I really love writing the wrap-up. When I start the
newsletter on Wednesday mornings, I rarely have a clue as to what I'll
be talking about. Well, okay, I do often have some idea about one or
two of the sections, but it's all in my head. Once I get to this last
section, everything has fallen into place, and I'm always amazed at
how it comes out. It's pretty cool to take a blank email template and
spill my guts on it until it turns into something useful and helpful
to you guys. (Interesting image, no?) If I can make you laugh a
little along the way, it's even better. I've gotta admit that I often
crack myself up while writing this too, which is probably the only
reason I keep at it each week. Your wonderful feedback helps too.
Keep it coming!
Before I sign off, I have a quick question for you. Who here would be
interested in a search engine optimization seminar in the New England
area? Anyone? I'm thinking beginner to intermediate sessions for a
half day, or possibly a full day if I bring in one or two other
"teachers." Whatcha think? Let me know...