I can get to page 1 of Google if I put keywords on my page can't I?

This is another phrase, as a web designer that I hear very often from customers. Much of the jargon that us web designers use is a mystery to most people outside of the industry. PHP, HTTP, SSL, stylesheets, includes, element attributes and the list could go on and on. Curiously, there is one technical phrase that many people who are not web designers have heard of:- the meta tag.

So what is a meta tag?

A meta tag is the name given to some code that is used to create a page on a website but is not viewable to the reader. The reason they exist is to allow web designers to put useful information about the web page that can be used by web browsers and search engines. For example. they can specify the character set used or the location of a stylesheet so that the browser knows how to lay out the web page.

Amongst them is something known as they keywords meta tag. This was invented in the very early days if the Internet and was used by search engines so that they could determine the topic of the page. It saved the search engine from having to read every line of code to weed out the semantics and try and work out what terms were relevant for that web page.

At the time, this was seen as a very efficient way of organising information that allowed search engines to do their job. However, there was one fatal flaw. You could put anything in here that you wanted. If you though that more users would be searching for celebrity naked pictures than for the actual subject of your website, you could stuff lots of phrases into here to do with that celebrity. The cleverer you were in organising this, the higher up your website appeared in the search engines.

Great, so I can put all my keywords into here and I will be on page 1?

No.

And why not?

This obvious way of scamming the search engines is long gone. They are much cleverer and more importantly have more resources to read the whole web page. Google, the most important search engine, ignores them altogether. The few search engines that read this information will compare its contents to the content on your page. Any mismatch will have your site dropping down the listings like a stone.

So what do I do?

The best thing is to ensure your site is brimming with lots of useful and relevant content. Try not to trick the search engines and the more you write, the higher up your site will appear. You can also boost your rankings with inbound links which I will deal with in a later article.

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