SEO Building Blocks: Meta Tags


When optimizing your website for search engines, there are many tools at your disposal. There’s no such thing as a quick SEO fix, but one oft-overlooked element is the utilization of meta tags. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they can help you.

What are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are usually inserted in the <head> section of your website’s html code. They are used by search engines to help determine your ranking. Within these tags you can enter descriptions and keywords, which can help the spiders or bots understand the purpose of your website.

To see the meta tags of a web page you’re viewing on, click on “View” at the top of your browser, which brings down a drop menu, then click “Source” or “Page Source.” This shows you the html code of the website.

The meta tags appear like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”This is where the description is entered.” />

<meta name=”keywords” content=”This is where the keywords are entered. ” />

How Do Meta Tags Benefit Me?

Entering relevant keywords in the meta tags of your web pages can help improve your ranking with search engines – which will increase traffic to your website.

Some search engines even use this info as the source of the description displayed to searchers looking for specific info. A well-written description can entice searchers to click through to your website over others.

How Do I Choose Keywords to Enter in Your Meta Tags?

Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Google offers a great tool that suggests search terms for your website marketing strategies. It monitors the number of terms people are actually searching. These search terms can be used as keywords in your website. You enter general keywords that relate to your site (in the example that follows, we used “used cars”). It returns a list of other keywords, some similar, some more specific, that you may not have considered.

  1. Go to
  2. Type your general keywords into the box titled “word or phrase.”
  3. In advanced options, choose the language and countries you want to include.
  4. Click “Show matching queries and alternatives.”
  5. The tool returns lists of words grouped as shown above. Print the page for future reference.
  6. Alternatively, you can go back to step one and enter in a competitors’ website to see what keywords they are indexing for.

There are more searches for general terms like “cars” – 3 million, or “used cars” – 1 million. But there are also more websites competing for their attention – 68 million and 10 million respectively.

There are fewer searches for specific phrases like “used cars Seattle,” but there also fewer sites that fit the phrase. And searchers looking for something specific are more likely to convert into sales.

If you focus on more specific key phrases throughout your website, your website listing is more likely to be seen by qualified traffic ready to do business with you. You are also competing with fewer websites.

Building your website around specific phrases instead of single words is an easy way to make your website stand out from the Internet crowd.

How Do I Write Descriptions and Keywords for My Meta Tags?

Here are some general rules about writing for meta tags:

  • Keep meta description and meta keyword tags under 200 characters in length. When you use too many keywords you end up diluting the importance of each one, potentially lowering rankings in the search engines.
  • In both your description and keyword meta tags, place the most important words first. This helps you achieve higher rankings as most search engines consider the first few keywords the most important in their ranking criteria.
  • Always use lower case letters in your keyword meta tags because most search engines aren’t case sensitive.
  • Don’t repeat a keyword more than five times within your keyword meta tags. This can result in spamming the search engine, which means they’ll likely ignore your submission.
  • To avoid spamming, formulate keyword phrases. Instead of using “marketing” over and over again, use phrases like “internet marketing” and “internet marketing research.”
  • Be sure to separate each keyword and keyword phrase with a comma.

How Do I Add Meta Tags to My Website?

When editing a specific page, click “Properties” in the navigation on the left side of the page. Then click the “Meta Tags” tab.

Action Steps

  1. Choose keywords to use in your meta tags by using the Google keyword selector tools.
  2. Add a description and keyword meta tag to all your web pages.
  3. Go to each individual web page on your website and customize the description and keyword meta tags based on the content of each page.

Using meta tags is an quick and easy way to help boost your search engine rankings. When used in conjunction with other solid  SEO principles such as relevant, timely content and backlinks, you should be well on your way to increasing your site traffic.

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