Between you and me, I don’t enjoy talking about blogging and SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimisation for you). It’s the least fun part of blogging and it’s something that I prefer to sort out in the beginning and never having to worry about it later on. Unfortunately, if you want to be friendly with the Google gods and have them put you on the front of the search page as much as possible, that bit of extra work called SEO is something you can’t run away from.
As much as I dislike shoving SEO down your throat, the reason I’m writing this is that when I was working on a client’s website, I realised that weren’t any meta tags on her blog at all. Out of curiosity, I checked out the Page Source of a number of blogs I follow and to my surprise, they don’t have any meta tags on their blogs either. In that case, I thought I’d write about it and why you should have meta tags on your blogs.
I’ve written a general post on Search Engine Optimisation for Beauty Bloggers 2 years ago and today, I’d like to delve into a section of it called Meta Tags. These are the tags that you see at the top of Page Source of every webpage you see. It’s not something you can see on the website itself. If you’re unclear about what I mean, right-click on a webpage and click on View Page Source.
Meta tags are special HTML tags that provide information about a webpage. They don’t affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they provide information such as who created the page, what the page is about and which keywords represent the page’s content. When search engines like Google or Bing build their indices, they use this information. When people search for information, search engines crawl websites, pick these tags up and display them in search results.
Meta Tags for the Website
Here’s an experiment for you. Go to Google.com and search for your website. In my case, let’s say I type in “Beautyholics Anonymous” (excluding the quotes). Let’s take a look at the search results.
You’ll see that the top result has my blog (woohoo!). It also shows the description of the blog. Now how did it know what Beautyholics Anonymous is about? Ahh … it’s all in the text I put into the Meta Description.
Meta tags for your website consist of four important sections:
1. Title tag
- What’s the title of the website?
- Title tags are important elements for SEO. You can add a couple of important keywords to your title and then your blog name. Or your blog name first and then the keywords. E.g. My Beauty Blog | An Awesome Australian Beauty Blog (or something like that). This will also appear on the bar at the top of your browser.
- Keep it under 69 characters (too many and Google will truncate the title in the search results)
- Who’s the author of the website?
- You may want to use your real name or a pseudonym if that’s what you’re using for your blog. I used Tine instead of my full name.
3. Meta keywords
- What are the keywords used to describe the website?
- The problem with keywords is that it’s very easy to go overboard and use every word you can think of under the sun to describe your website.
- Keep the keywords relevant to your blog. Think of what you mostly write about and use those keywords. If you write predominantly about beauty, adding the keywords “gardening, carpentry” and so on won’t help.
4. Meta description
- What is the website about?
- This is a good place to write a brief description about your blog. This is what is shown when someone searches your blog on Google or any other search engine.
- Keep your description under 160 characters to avoid it being truncated by Google. As you can see in my example above, I wrote too much in my meta description and the remaining characters were cut off.
- Meta descriptions do not have any SEO value. They are not taken into consideration when showing your website in search results. However, it has marketing value as it’s the first thing people see when search results are shown. It allows to know what the website is about at first glance.
- Make your meta descriptions interesting. Even if your blog isn’t what people are searching for, make the description catchy enough to grab their attention and make them want to check your blog out anyway. Mine is boring as arse and needs to be changed. 😛
Meta Tags for Individual Blog Posts
What I mentioned earlier were meta tags for the website’s homepage. There are also meta tags for individual web pages. For example, the meta description of a blog post will differ from the homepage’s. The homepage’s meta description will tell you what the WEBSITE is about. Each blog post/page’s meta description will tell you what the blog post/page is about. The same goes for keywords. The keywords used will mainly be for the blog post.
Meta tags for individual blog posts are dynamic. In other words, they are not generated to be the same as the homepage’s. They will change according to each post with different descriptions and keywords specially created for the post. They are also dynamic so that search engines will clearly know one blog post/page from another and do not treat all of them the same.
How do you insert meta tags into your blogs?
So, after going on and on about meta tags, the all important question is: how do you insert meta tags into your blogs?
If you’re on WordPress, there are plenty of SEO plugins that you can use that will automatically insert meta tags into your website for you. You don’t have to manually insert these tags if you don’t want to. A couple of recommended WordPress plugins for SEO are All In One SEO Pack and Yoast. You can also check if your WordPress theme comes as part of a framework like Thesis or Genesis. If they do, then they’ll have their own settings where you can insert the tags without any need for additional plugins.
For me, Beautyholics Anonymous’ theme runs on the Thesis framework so my meta tags for the website and individual blog posts are automatically sorted out and inserted into the blog.
For Blogger, you can manually add meta tags like Author and Keywords to your blog theme’s HTML. Go to Template > Edit HTML. Search for the code below:
<b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>
Copy and paste the code below right after the code above. Just change the content below to suit your needs (they don’t have to be in capital letters).
<meta content='KEYWORDS HERE' name='keywords'/>
<meta content='AUTHOR NAME HERE' name='author'/>
For meta description, you can add them in the Settings. Go to Settings > Search Preferences. By default, the Description is disabled. Enable Description and edit the text for your website’s description (keep it under 150 characters).
For meta descriptions of individual posts on Blogger, you can add that when you’re composing your blog posts. Go to New Post > Post Settings > Search Description. Give the blog post a very brief introduction or summary on what it’s about. You will only be able to see the Search Description box if you enabled Search Description in the Settings (as shown in the above paragraph). Keep the search description under 150 characters as well.
I hope I didn’t lose you somewhere in the post. It can get a bit technical especially when it comes to codes (and I do ramble on) but once you familiarise yourself with it, it’s actually not too bad. Once you have these meta tags on and make it a habit to put in a description and keywords for each blog post, you have a large part of your blog’s SEO sorted out. It’s extra 20 seconds of work. 😛
So, if you haven’t inserted any meta tags to your blog, here’s a bit of homework for you. Take 15 minutes and think about what your blog represents, what it’s about and what the keywords to describe your blog are. Insert them into your blog manually or via a plugin. It may not guarantee you top spot of a Google search but at least it will not be lost in sea of websites.
What’s your blog description like? If possible, do copy and paste your description in the comments below. I love to read good blog descriptions. 🙂