What are meta tags? How should you use links on your site most effectively? These are some of the questions answered today in our post: Getting Your Meta Tags and Links Right. Read on!
So, What are Meta Tags?
If you go to View -> Developer -> View Source on any webpage in Google Chrome you will probably see a number of “meta” tags in the HTML code near the top of the page. This code is there to supply the search engines with information about your page: its description, keywords, and other information relevant to search.
In the past, web developers and SEO marketers have stuffed these tags full of their desired keywords in the hope to fool the search engines into higher rankings for these keywords.
Unfortunately this is not a good tactic to use anymore and may result in search engines penalising your page or site. You should however use meta tags for a couple of key pieces of information as follows.
What are Description Tags?
This information may not improve your search rankings, but it will help your search traffic click through rate. The major search engines will use this information as the text that appears beneath your link in search results; if you don’t have a description tag the search engines will simply grab some random text from your page – not ideal.
From a marketing point of view, you will want to specify your description for each page of your site, using the keywords that you are targeting for that specific page, and making this an attractive call to action for browsers to click on your page link.
Keep in mind that this description cannot be too long or it will be cut off and your message won’t get across; keep it to a succinct 150-160 characters and invest time thinking about the best message and keywords to include here. Keywords that match search terms are shown in bold in search results, so including them in the page URL, page title, and page description will make your page stand out more and encourage a higher click through rate.
What are Title Tags?
The title tag is placed in thesection alongside your meta tags and has two main functions. This information will appear as the title of the page and on the tab of your browser page, and search engines will use this text as the title and link of your organic listings. It is therefore crucial that you include your targeted keywords in each page title tag so that your organic SEO rankings are lifted for those keywords.
What are Inbound Links?
Search engines use a number of techniques to rank pages, and these algorithms are closely guarded secrets of the search community. The main focus however remains the same: finding and displaying the most relevant pages for the browsing public according to the keywords searched.
One primary method search engines use to determine a site’s relevance is through the number and quality of backlinks (or inbound links) to a website.
PageRank is an algorithm designed by Google founder Larry Page, and this score assesses each web page’s quality and relevance out of 10. Pages with a higher PageRank that link to your page will increase your page’s search engine rankings and PageRank. Links to your site from lower ranked (or less authoritative) sites will generally not help your rankings too much.
You should aim to build quality inbound links from authoritative sites with higher PageRanks than your site; sites such as .org or .gov sites usually have high rankings and if you can build backlinks from these sites it will also boost your rankings.
Try to include your targeted keywords in the anchor text of inbound links; for example if the link is pointing to a page about organic dog shampoo, my link anchor text should include the words ‘organic dog shampoo’ rather than some other words or the general name of the website. This anchor text will help reinforce the authority of your page and PageRank for those keywords.
Don’t buy backlinks from marketing agencies claiming to be able to instantly build you hundreds or thousands of backlinks; the search engines are onto this and will penalise you accordingly. Take the time to build quality links; one strong backlink from an authoritative website will be worth hundreds of links from those dubious black-hat marketing agencies.
Aside from boosting your SEO, quality backlinks will also give you quality referral traffic as new customers read about your site and click through these links.
Try to invest time getting to know owners of sites, forums, and blogs, and give a little to these sites. Perhaps you can guest-post there and offer to give something to that community in return for a link back to your site.
You might also engage a PR company to help you get articles written in large authoritative news websites with links back to your site; this could be a high cost and high risk strategy, but a good way to boost your backlinks from high PageRank websites.
What are Outbound Links, and Should You use Them?
If inbound links can help your PageRank, will giving away links to other pages diminish your website’s results with the search engines? There’s no conclusive evidence either way, but it is likely that outgoing links will have only a small negative impact, or no impact at all on your site’s PageRank.
Having said that, you should carefully assess the benefits to linking to other websites, and what that says to your customers about that site; you may be seen to be endorsing that particular page or product, and this could have repercussions on your reputation in a positive or negative way.
You might be approached to swap backlinks with other sites, whereby you link to their site from your page(s) and they link to your site. If their website has a higher PageRank than yours this might be worth considering, if you can also see value for your visitors to be sent to their page.
When setting up links to outbound web pages, make sure you set these links to launch in a separate browser page or tab, ensuring the visitor stays on your page while exploring the outbound link in a new window. The code for this is:
<a href=”“http://www.examplewebsite.com”” target=”“_blank””>Example Link Text</a>
Should You Focus on Organic Traffic or Paid Traffic?
Building links can be a time consuming process, and it can take awhile to move your PageRank up; many businesses therefore focus on paid advertising for traffic in the early days in order to guarantee a flow of visitors that result in sales.
As your business matures, you should gradually seek to replace some of this paid traffic with organic traffic through better search results and a more authoritative web presence. Getting your title and description tags right is a great start on this, and you can then build quality backlinks as your business matures and your and resources time allow.