Articles for Webmasters     Keywords and Description Tags

Keywords are vital component of the search engine indexing and data retrieval process. They are the measure by which search engines match websites with queries, and their placement on web pages is critical to the success of a website. The keywords need to be placed in both the body content and in the meta tags that are hidden from the viewer.

Description tags are one of the most important tags on a web page. A description tag is a meta tag, which means that its function is to provide information about the web page. Although its content is not visible on the page body, it does appear in search engine results. When a number of sites are listed by a search engine in response to a query, the description tags content appears as gray text under the site link. They display summary information about the web page and its contents. The description meta tag is one of many meta tags, but is one of the most important in determining web page ranking.

Description meta tags should include a paragraph of text describing the content of the web page on which it is placed. Where they are not included, the search engines will use the text from the top portion of the web page body. The problem with this is that it may not include the full set of keywords you want to use, and it will not have been written to attract someone using a search engine. To avoid having the search engine making its own decisions about what text to include in search results, you must always include a description meta tag on each web page. It is important that the description for each page is unique; otherwise search engines will assume that the content is not important enough to warrant its own description.

The text within the description meta tag must include keywords for that page. Use the keywords twice where possible, and don't try to use too many. You will dilute the effect if there are a large number of different keywords within the paragraph. Keywords at the start of the text are seen as being more important than keywords later in the paragraph. Start the paragraph with a keyword and spread others evenly throughout the text.

Don't include keywords that do not appear in the body of the page. Search engine spiders will view it as spamming, and may ban your site, or at least reduce the ranking. They will ask why the description keywords not appear on the page if they are relevant to it. It is similarly important that you don't include keywords too often in the text. The paragraph of descriptive text must read naturally to visitors, and to search engine spiders.

Description meta tags therefore, are key to the successful placement of web pages in search engine results. Don't neglect them on your site, or leave it to the search engines to sort out what text to list in describing your site. There is no point in spending time and money in developing top quality web pages if the detail is forgotten about. A little time spent in writing good web page descriptions will pay you back many times over in contributing to good search engine rankings.

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