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How to create proper keywords, titles, tags and descriptions

keywords.png

FotoJournal features a wide range of search engine optimization (SEO) features, some of which can cause confusion. Our customers are foremost photographers and not web professionals so it’s understandable that their SEO knowledge may be limited. It’s our responsibility at FotoJournal to educate our customers so they can get the maximum value out of their blogs.

In this post we attempt to demystify meta keywords, meta descriptions, title tags and content tags. All but the last of these are HTML tags, but what is HTML and what is an HTML tag?

What is an HTML tag?

Behind the scenes, a web page is made up of a multitude of nested HTML tags. The tag defines the type of content and everything you see on a page is contained within a tag. For example, you might have an image tag to display images or a paragraph tag to display a paragraph of text like this one.

What is the title tag and why is it so important?

From an SEO perspective, the most important HTML tag is the title tag. If you were to view the source of the FotoJournal home page, somewhere towards the top you would find the following title tag.

title-tag.png

Title tags have two primary uses. Firstly, they show up in the title bar (or tab) of your browser.

title-tag-browser.png

And secondly, Google often uses them as the clickable link for a result on their search results page.

title-tag-serps.png

Google reserves the right to not use the title tag if it’s inappropriate (e.g. says ‘Untitled’ or doesn’t seem to match the page’s content), missing or too long (generally greater than 70 characters).

You should consider what is a good title for your page because it will have some influence on whether a searcher clicks through to your site. If you’re a wedding photographer in Des Moines then something like “Des Moines Wedding Photography” would encourage clicks whereas. “I’m a really awesome photographer that takes pictures of weddings in Des Moines, Iowa, USA isn’t going to convey the right type of message and likely will harm your SEO efforts.

There’s a lot been written about title tags and you can get really deep into optimizing them. To learn more than you ever wanted to know, check out http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag

Tip: You can edit your blog’s title meta tag on the “Settings” page in FotoJournal and for each of your posts in the advanced tab of your post’s edit screen.

The description meta tag

The description tag provides a short, succinct description of the page. This is critically important for your visibility in search engines as it is frequently shown in search result pages as a description of your site.

Matt Cutts leads the Webspam team at Google, and works with the search quality team on search engine optimization (SEO) issues. A long time Google employee, Matt is considered the oracle of SEO. Regarding the meta description tag, Matt says the following:

We use the meta description tag. The meta description is really handy because if we don’t know what would make a good snippet (to show below the link in the search result) and you have something in the meta description tag that would basically give a pretty good answer – maybe it matches what the visitor typed in or something along those lines. Then we do reserve the right to show that meta description tag as the snippet. So we can either show the snippet that might be the keyword in context on the page, or the meta description.

— Matt Cutts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBTBEfd7z_Y#t=54

When FotoJournal appears in Google’s search engine results, the content of the description meta tag is used. However, this isn’t universal for every site. Google may show ‘keywords in context’ — a snippet of text from the page — if they think that provides more information to the visitor.

Here’s FotoJournal’s meta description tag as it appears in the source code for our website:

meta-description-code.png

And here’s what the search result looks like. Note the text from the description meta tag is used in Google’s description snippet for the result.

meta-description-serps.png

The description tag is extremely powerful because it’s your chance to influence someone to click through to your site when they’re looking at a results page on Google. Even if you aren’t the top result for a search, you still might convince the person to click to your site if your site description is really relevant. Use your description tag to really sell yourself!

Tip: You can edit your blog’s description meta tag on the “Settings” page in FotoJournal and for each of your posts in the advanced tab of your post’s edit screen.

What about other meta tags?

In addition to HTML tags that display content, some (like the description tag) serve to provide structured data about a web page. These ‘meta’ tags are not visible when a human views a page using a web browser – they’re only seen by computers when they ‘index’ the page for searching. There’s a lot of different types, but we only need to discuss one.

The keywords meta tag

The keywords meta tag is a comma separated list of words that describe a page’s content. For a photographer based in Vancouver it might contain “Vancouver photographer, photographer, wedding photographer Vancouver, etc&hellip.”

In the early days of the internet the keywords tag was how you ranked high in search results. If you wanted to rank high for “Seattle coffee roasters” you’d enter as many variations of that phrase as possible into your keywords tag. To combat the spammers, most search engines simply began ignoring the keywords meta tag altogether.

Matt Cutts has the following to say on the meta keywords tag:

You shouldn’t spend any time on the meta keywords tag. We don’t use it. I’m not aware of any major search engine that uses it these days.

— Matt Cutts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBTBEfd7z_Y#t=34

Matt is crystal clear here — meta keywords are downright useless nowadays. Furthermore, it’s suspected that some search engines actually penalize websites for using the keywords meta tag because its considered a spam tactic.

Because of this FotoJournal will be removing the keywords meta tag in the near future. You don’t need to worry about this one any longer.

Tags to help visitors browse your content

When writing a post or uploading an image, FotoJournal allows you to ‘tag’ your created content. These tags are different from the HTML tags that make up web pages. The purpose of these tags are to help people browse and discover your content more easily. Tags are usually chosen informally and personally by the content creator. They can be almost anything.

For example, if I took a photo of a wedding, I might tag it with ‘wedding’, ‘wedding photography’, ‘new york’, ‘new york wedding’. They key thing is not to go overboard. Although there’s no maximum, the purpose is to relate your posts together – fewer is better. Around 5 tags would be a good target, but no more than 10. It would be frustrating for visitors if you had 100 posts with 5000 tags. Clicking a tag to view other similarly tagged posts would yield only the post you just clicked from.

Tags are non-hierarchical although when displaying many tags as a ‘tag cloud’, a weighting can be assigned to each based on how many times a tag has been used.

It’s critical to remember that tags are not the same as meta keywords. Creating lots of tags will not help your SEO. If anything it will confuse and muddy what your page is really about.

Conclusion

It’s important to understand the differences between all these items in order to create a solid foundation on which to build your blog. If there’s anything further you’d like to know then please contact us at hello@myfotojournal.com – we’re always happy to help!

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1 comment

Marc H.
Thank you very much for this nice read. Even though the article is already a few years old, it's still very useful. I gave it to one of my interns to have a general overview and introduction to the topic. Thanks a lot

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