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Who Said META Tag Optimization Was Dead?

Posted in: Blogs,Google,Keywords,Marketing,Search Engine Optimisation,SEO,Statistics by Richard Hearne on January 18, 2007
Internet Marketing Ireland

Ok, I now have so many draft posts that it’s not funny any more. So here’s a short little post about the META description tag, and why META tag optimization still has it’s uses.

Those Awards, a ‘Best Site’, and some META tag fun optimisation

I swore that I wouldn’t mention those awards again (see, I kept my word :mrgreen:), but this post has led to a rather large amount of traffic.

It appears that many people are hitting Red Cardinal off searches for “moviestar”. Here’s a quick screen shot of the Google results for that term:

Google search for moviestar

(You’ll have to take my word for it when I say that my post ranked #2 for that search for a long time. I’m now at #5. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ve no idea why www.beingthere.com/ is returned at the current #2? And one more thing, does anyone else find that ‘Movistar’ suggested listings in the middle useful?)

Here’s a larger image of my blog post listing on that page:

Google snippet for Red Cardinal Moviestar post

When I wrote that post I was a little angry at said awards. So I gave the post a META description of “moviestar.ie is NOT the Best Website Launched in 2006″. And boy have I got some traffic from people searching for “moviestar”.

Meta Tag Optimization alive & well

First off, Meta Description tags have little or no ranking benefit. What content you stick in that tag wont make your site rank any higher (well, for Google anyway). But that tag can be hugely powerful for websites that do rank well. That’s because Google generally uses your META Description for the snippet underneath your page URL in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

When you think about your META description tags, you should think of them in terms of getting click throughs, not ranking.

As people searched for “moviestar” many saw my snippet. That snippet aroused curiosity and served as a good call-to-action. And people did act – by clicking and visiting my post.

So next time you’re creating your unique META descriptions for each page (did I mention that unique descriptions on each page reduces the chance of duplicate content filters hitting your site?) you should think about searchers. And you should think about your descriptions as headlines – the more attractive your headline the more likely you will receive that click over a less interesting or off-topic snippet.

People still believe in Meta Tag Optimization

Just as a parting note, I took a quick look in my favourite keyword tool to see what people search for. And they are still searching on phrases related to meta tag optimisation:

Keyword research for 'meta tag'

[Update] The actual search query is actually “moviestar.ie” (without quotes) – yes, you’d be absolutely surprised at the number of people who search for a domain name.

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  1. You couldn’t have put it better. :)

    Meta Description Tags are VERY powerful for a call of action to enter your site and should be utilized so. In your case, it was to bad mouth … said moviestar.ie

    You never know. Maybe next years, ehm, said awards, will be riddled with decent sites afraid of the backlash from SEOs ;)

    Comment by Dave Davis — January 18, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

  2. Actually, it was more to bad mouth said awards. I believe that I have been quite positive about the business plan of Moviestar. I know nothing about their execution, so cannot comment on their service.

    You never know, but I for one am not holding my breath :D

    Comment by Richard Hearne — January 19, 2007 @ 5:56 am

  3. Some good food for thought there, Richard. I generally add my META, DC, etc. tags in a generic include file seeing as how they’re not relevant for SEO. But I may very well start adding unique relevant description for each important document now! Two questions if I may:

    1) What about the relevance of unique meta keywords, if any?
    2) Why the hell aren’t you on a beach somewhere?

    Comment by Ken — January 19, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

  4. 1. META keywords have little or no effect for Google. The others may well give some weighting to keywords tag.

    The primary usefulness of keyword tag in Google is to avoid the possibility of dupe filter hitting your page. This is most especially the case the thin content sites that have a high proportion of boilerplate elements to unique content.

    2. Not a beach man. Love the heat, but not the sun.

    But if I neglect the blog for too long it will take a while for GoogleBot to come back again. A little new content here and there should keep it happier.


    Comment by Richard Hearne — January 20, 2007 @ 1:56 am

  5. The duplicate content filter for META keywords is interesting. Well for me it’s really more worrying than interesting as a lot of my sites have the same keywords througout the whole site. I know they don’t have any bearing on SEO and that’s why I just duplicate them using an include; generally I only use META keywords functionally when building intranets, libraries, etc. Perhaps I should just leave them out completely on commercial sites?

    Comment by Mojo — January 20, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  6. Ken

    I wouldn’t worry unless the sites in question are thin-content sites, i.e. they have little indexable content, or a high proportion of the text on each page is identical. In those circumstances having unique META descriptions and keywords *might* save some pages from hitting a duplicate content filter.

    And remember, the above is relevant for Google. The other majors still do check the METAs (but how much weight is given is frnakly unknown).


    Comment by Richard Hearne — January 20, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

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