Meta Tags for E-tail Sites

I recently conducted a competitive analysis for one of my etail clients and to my astomishment, I found that out of the 13 competitors I tracked, none utilised the meta description tag on their site.  This prompted me to write a post on this discussing meta tags and best practices for using them on your site …

Firstly…What is meta data?  In a nutshell, meta data is the information that is placed in the <head></head> part of your HTML (code) and primarily used to tell the search engines what your site’s pages are about as well as providing other useful data and information.   An example of meta data tags can be seen below:

 <head><title>Title goes here…</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Description goes here..”/>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”Up to 5 keywords go here…”/>

This post will focus onthe three meta elements; Title Tag, Description Meta Tag and Meta Keywords tag, so lets go ahead and define each of these meta data elements:

  • Title Tag:

The title tag is the title of your page and shows up as the title of your page in the search engine results pages (serps) and also appears on the top of a user’s browser.  It is by far the most important meta element and its presence is absolutely mandatory.  The code for the title tag is as follows:

<title>your page’s title goes here</title>

  • Meta Description Tag:

The Meta Description tag is the focus of this post.  Basically, the meta description is not a mandatory tag but SEO best practice says you have to have it.  The code for the meta description is as follows:

<meta name=”description” content=”Description goes here..”/>

Here is why…

The meta description tag appears in the search results pages as the description snippet belwoe the title tag.  If no description tag is implemented on the site, the search engines will still find a content from the page for the description but in most cases that content will look shabby as it would contain content from various parts of the page including you breadcrumb, image alt tag or anywhere else the engine decides to get that content from.  This also leads to the description being cut off with a (…)  Very shabby!

Having a meta description tag allows you to havee control over the image of your company and more crucially it allows you to include call to action words such as buy now, or sign up today, etc…

  • Meta Keywords Tag

The meta keywords tag is no longer necessary or important but again, seo best practices states that you have to have it. In the past when search engines were new and unable to read the content of the page, they relied on this tag to rank pages.  Some search engines probably still do!   The code for the meta keywords is as follows:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Up to 5 keywords go here…”/>

To sum up, my view on metas is that you have to have them. mainly for having a sharp looking listing which includes the appropriate call to action for your site.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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