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Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a term that more and more businesses are familiarizing themselves with, and if your business hasn't yet, it's about time! SEO has been a real hot topic for marketers, web designers, and web writers who are working to help their clients (or their own companies) climb the ranks of the search engines.

Beyond optimizing page content with relevant keywords and long-tail focused subject matter, there's been quite a bit of debate over the effectiveness of metatags.

In the earlier days of SEO, metatags were a big deal. Plugging important keywords and descriptions in that precious 'head' space in your HTML page meant that you were leagues ahead of the competition that didn't know to do that. Search engines learned where to categorize your page from your metatags, and that directly impacted your rankings. What a simple solution!

But there's been a shift. As you can imagine, as search algorithms have evolved and the very way users navigate the web has changed, many of the earlier effective SEO techniques are no longer valid. Some were quick to write off metatags altogether when they realized that metatags aren't all that responsible for rankings anymore, but don't be so quick to abandon them!

While including your most competitive keywords in your "keywords" tag won't guarantee you a #1 spot on Google anymore, strategically fleshing out your meta section can do nothing but help you reach your target customers online.

SEO gurus at SEOMoz.com provide some great tips for approaching metatags in a modern SEO environment and say that the only metatag that is still really relevant is the description tag, which serves 3 main purposes:

  1. To describe the content of the page accurately and succinctly
  2. To serve as a short, text "advertisement" to click on your results in the search results
  3. To display targeted keywords,not for ranking purposes, but to indicate the content to searchers

By crafting your description like an ad, you're customizing the message that's shown in search results to your target customers, and you're helping them to determine whether your website is the place that holds the information they're looking for.

SEOMoz urges readers to not immediately assume that the meta description should resemble a PPC (pay-per-click) advertisement, as often visitors that are likely to click on that type of ad aren't the same as visitors who are searching organically. Making sure to include key terms in the description without keyword stuffing will promote a higher likelihood of clicks because when a user searches in Google, search terms in the results descriptions are bold, catching the searcher's eye.

So, while writing that perfect meta description might not trick search engine spiders into catapulting you to the #1 spot in search results anymore, don't abandon your metatags! Taking a few extra minutes to customize your meta description could be the difference between getting passed by in the search results, and making that next big sale.

quotes

"People are very impressed with how slick and professional our new site looks, and that it gives us a 'big company' look even though we're small."

Aaron Sherman,
Marketing Director
NextComputing

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