You’ve likely heard that you need to add meta tags to every page of your website. There are some things you need to know about meta tags before you write them (and they are very important).
First, DO NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – create the same meta tags for every single page on your website. That will not fair well for you at the search enignes. Some CMS systems (Joomla comes to mind) will automatically generate your meta tags for you, but most of the time these automatically generated meta tags will be the same meta tags on every page. If that’s the case, you’d be better off without meta tags.
When I speak of meta tags in this manner, I am specifically talking about title, description, and keywords meta tags. Let’s discuss these one at a time:
Title Meta Tag
The title meta tag is the tag that generates what visitors will see in the top left corner of their browser when they are on your page. You want that title meta tag to use your important keyword – that’s the most important keywords for that particular web page – not the website. Make sure it uses the most important keyword for that page (i.e. the most often used keyword). Do not leave this meta tag field blank. It is also the verbiage that searchers will see in the search engines whenever the SERP comes up for the search they make. It is quite possible that if you do not have a title meta tag then you will never come up in a SERP.
Description Meta Tag
The description meta tag is what appears below the title tag in the SERPs when searchers find your website in the search engines. A carefully worded description can encourage the click through. Keep that in mind. Use your keyword at least once but not more than twice. If you want to optimize your description for more than one keyword then do so for each keyword only once and do not use more than two keywords. You only have a limited amount of space (about 50 words) to write a dynamic, click-encouraging description meta tag.
You don’t necessarily NEED a description meta tag, however. Still, I would not leave it blank. If you don’t have a description meta tag then Google will likely take the description that is used for your DMOZ listing. If you don’t have a DMOZ listing and you don’t write a description meta tag then you may be SOL – appearing in a SERP with nothing that says “click me” below your title link. That would be quite sad.
On another note, DMOZ editors may write your DMOZ description for you (assuming they approve your listing). You really don’t want your site at being described by someone else at the search engines, do you? Thought not. Write your own description meta tag and make sure it is written with the click-through in mind.
Keywords Meta Tag
The keyword meta tag is the easiest to screw up. Do it wrong and it will hurt you. Do it right and it has more potential to help you than the other two meta tags. It’s not the most important meta tag, but it is the most vital. I say it’s not the most important because you can get by without entering any keywords into that meta tag and the search engines will likely rank your pages according to the content on your page (which they consider more important any way). So you won’t lose anything at all by not entering keywords into the keyword meta tag.
Oh, but enter the wrong keywords and you could be considered a spammer and get penalized. For instance, if you enter a keyword that is important for your site overall, but that particular word doesn’t appear on this particular web page even one single time then that could count against you. Don’t let that happen.
The easiest and safest way to generate a keyword list for each page is to write the content then check the keyword density of the page. Use a keyword density analyzer and select only the most used keywords that actually appear in the content of that page. If a keyword doesn’t appear on a page at least four times or at a minimum of 2% keyword density then don’t add it to your keyword list in the meta tag.