For this week’s blog we’re going to focus on using meta-tags when optimizing your newsletter page for search engines.
What are the meta-tags? Meta-tags are the tags in your newsletter page’s code that are not seen by your visitors and are there for “spiders”. They tell machines what this page is about as well as give lots of other information about the page. There are many different meta-tags out there but most important are just 3: TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and no, not KEYWORDS…it’s the ROBOTS meta-tag. Others are really not that important. For example, the search engines’ bots simply ignore the REVISIT tag and will visit your site regardless of your tag. I’ll explain how these work later in the article.
Generally, people give too much priority to meta-tags, however they are not the important factor in making your newsletter rank high on search engines for your chosen terms. Meta-tags are just a small piece of a puzzle. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to include them to help your overall SEO efforts.
The most valuable information about meta-tags you should know is that you have to have unique meta-tags for each page. It means that if your newsletter has multiple pages, or if you have a separate page for every single article of your newsletter (recommended) – every page should have its own title, description, and keywords.
Now, let’s talk about each major meta-tag in particular.
TITLE Tag for Your Newsletter:
Title is everything. It says what the page is about right at the top left corner of your browser. It is what the Internet user sees about your page in the search results or in the web-directory listing; and how your newsletter will be titled in someone’s bookmarks (favorites).
TITLE is supported by all the search engines and automated directories. It is the first thing on your newsletter’s page that is crawled by spiders. Actually, the TITLE tag is not considered a meta-tag, though it is put in the same area of the page as the meta-tags. Don’t worry about it, it’s just a terminology. Insert it right after the HEAD tag.
This is what it looks like:
<title>My Newsletter’s Main Keyword</title>
Now, let me give you some hints on how to make TITLE more effective. First, try to keep it really short but still descriptive: just use your main keyword as your title. You should also have a unique title for each of your pages. Again, the main keyword of the page can be a title of this page. If you wish to make it more descriptive, then try to keep your keyword in the beginning and still keep it short. Try to stay within a 10 word limit in this case. The title should be appealing to both the user and search engines since it is the first thing each will discover about your newsletter.
What is your email newsletter about? Answer in a very short sentence. That’s your title.
If you wish to have several keywords in your title, this is still possible. Read the article about “choosing the right web-address for your newsletter”. All the advice given there about multiple keywords would work here too. If you are talking about a specific location in your newsletter it might be a good idea to put location in your TITLE tag. Also re-read my “choosing keywords for your newsletter” post for tips and ideas on having an effective title for your newsletter page. All the suggestions would apply here too.
Once again, the TITLE tag is very important. Make sure those who search for something you have for them find your title appealing. Make sure it sells.
Now, let’s talk about the DESCRIPTION Meta-Tag for Your Newsletter.
DESCRIPTION Meta-Tag for Your Newsletter:
The DESCRIPTION meta-tag is supported by most search engines. Some Web directories and search engines will display the description meta-tag as part of the listing or search results. That’s why it is important to have it there and to make sure it is optimized and appealing.
This is what it looks like:
<meta content=”Your newsletter’s description with your keywords in it.” name=description>
Try to keep it as short as possible, 1 or 2 sentences are plenty. It should contain 1-3 of your main keywords. You can even use multiple versions of your keywords by rephrasing them or having plural/single versions. Do not just stuff it with keywords, make sure it reads well and provides your potential readers with a Call to Action. It will definitely boost your clickthrough rate if you do a quality work with your description meta-tag.
How unique is your newsletter? How it is different from other similar newsletters? What problems does your newsletter solve for its readers? Answer any of these questions. That can be your description.
Also, remember that you need to use different description meta-tags for each of your page if your newsletter’s online presence is a multi-page site.
The description meta-tag doesn’t require much time but it really helps a lot, not just with your higher ranking but also with bringing in quality/targeted traffic to your online newsletter.
Time to learn about the KEYWORDS Meta-Tag for Your Newsletter.
KEYWORDS Meta-Tag for Your Newsletter:
The KEYWORDS meta-tag does not appear in search results. However, Yahoo! and some smaller search engines/directories still consider this tag somewhat useful. So, it wouldn’t hurt to have the keywords meta-tag in your newsletter’s page code too. This is especially true with the emerging Web 2.0 world, where this meta-tag might become important someday as it helps with tagging sites and pages automatically.
This is what the KEYWORDS meta-tag looks like. Simply list your main keywords with commas separating one from another:
<meta content=”your main keyword, your second main keyword, your third main keyword” name=keywords>
Some people use misspellings and synonyms along with their keywords in this meta-tag, but I don’t encourage you to do this. Keep it short as usual, and just list the most important (main) keywords. You can list up to 25 keywords though if you wish.
Needless to say that you need to use different keywords for different pages like you did with the TITLE tag and the DESCRIPTION meta-tag depending on what that particular newsletter page covers.
This process has already been made very simple for you since you have already chosen your keywords. Now you just need to simply insert them into this meta-tag.
Finally, let’s talk about a ROBOTS Meta-Tag.
ROBOTS Meta-Tag for Your Newsletter:
A ROBOTS meta-tag is considered more important than the KEYWORDS meta-tag because search engines follow it. However, these 2 meta-tags solve different tasks so it’s not useful to compare them. Just use all that is legitimate, doesn’t require too much effort, and yet helps your better ranking.
The ROBOTS meta-tag allows you to tell any or all robots not to index some of your pages. Just insert this line to the code of the page that you do not want to be crawled:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”>
It tells the robot not to index this document and not to analyze it for links.
Or, alternatively, you can create a robots.txt file which will tell the robots where NOT to go. It should be placed in the root directory of your newsletter’s site (yournewsletterpage.com/robots.txt). It can say something like this:
This means that all visiting robots should not index and follow any links on the site. You can indicate which particular robots it is addressed to (User-agent: robots official name) or which particular directory or files it shouldn’t crawl:
Here is more info on the subject covered: http://www.robotstxt.org/wc/exclusion.html
I hope that wasn’t too much for you to handle in one reading. Until next time…
Director, Online Marketing
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