Seo Tags

I’ve run into a few people who have had some trouble with tags on their pages and to what to do with them or where to put them. First off let me explain quickly what I mean by tags: a tag is a piece of HTML code that can specify what a piece of HTML code does E.g. a link to another site, normal enough but if we add a tag to it, it changes how the link works slightly.

A Normal link may look like this –

<a href="http://www.example.com">A link</a>

But if we change it to a no-follow link (I’ll explain what a no-follow link is later)-

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.example.com">A link</a>

The ‘no follow’ link changes the way this link works. Please read on if you would like to find out how.

head

So what tags do I have access to?

Well there are loads and loads so I’ll use some of the more useful one’s for SEO.

The first helpful tag is the META tag.

The META tag has three main elements which are title, description & keywords.

Before I get into them, a bit of background; the META tag used to be a very valuable tool for SEO but it was abused to gain rankings and thus is no longer as useful.  It can still be a very powerful tag and shouldn’t be overlooked however.

The META tag lives in the Head of your HTML body.

Title – The META title is the title of your page and this is picked up by search engine crawl bots.  It also can appear in the search engine results which is why it’s a good idea to make sure it sums up the whole page especially if the page is specific to a keyword.

Keywords – This used to be about keywords related to a page but it’s no longer a metric used by search engines so can mostly be ignored and you can put some info in here but I wouldn’t rely on it for improving anything.

Description – This is a description of what your page is about which can appear in the search engine results. It can be a good idea to make sure it’s an accurate account of what your page is about along with any keywords about what your page does.

Examples:

google

<meta name="title" content="example title">

<meta name="description" content="example description">

<meta name="keywords" content="example, example2">

Canonical

This is a very handy tag that you may have heard of but its either under used or used incorrectly.

So what does it do exactly?

Well let’s pretend you own a site that sells stuff online. You have a product and it’s sorted in three different ways.  So you’ve multiple pages all with the same content on (the product). Google doesn’t like duplicate content and if you’ve got thousands of products you can get a headache press quick.

sort1

We can use the canonical text to tell the search engines the oringinal non-duplicate page.  Search engines will then not index the duplicate pages and only the oringinal.

sort2

Let’s look at it in the HTML format.

<link href="http://www.example.com/buy/sort/product" />
<link href="http://www.example.com/buy/sort/product/price" />

If we place the following in the head of the duplicate pages (e.g. alphabetical, rating, price) it tells the search engine the product page is the main page to index and these other pages are the duplicate. In other words it’s pointing towards the original page from the duplicate pages.

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/buy/sort/product" />

No follow
The nofollow tag I mentioned at the beginning, but now I’ll explain a bit more about what it does.

A long time ago search engines could be manipulated; one way was to spam comments with lots of links.

The reason the spam was there in the first place is if you create a search engine (a very basic one) how do you tell what’s popular? Well you could go off how many links are pointed to a site (a bit like how many people are talking about a movie down the pub) so each link has some value. Obviously search engines are a lot more complicated than this but essentially this is how links work they all have a small bit of value that passes through them.

So to help combat this search engines agreed on a tag – the nofollow tag. This tag tells the search engines not to follow this link and that it’s not “endorsed” so to speak (A bit like muting a person down the pub). This is only a very basic way of how it works.

Now you may think “great” I can no follow all my links and horde all the links – Well you can’t as you can also receive a penalty for this. If you’re in doubt look at it through the eyes of a user to your site and how they should be directed through your site. The exception may be if you were going to link to a competitor you may not want to pass any “link juice” to them.

I’ll take the same example from the start of this so you can see how the tags look like. These tags are used on any link you think need them.

<a href="http://www.example.com">A link</a>
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.example.com">A link</a>

rel=author & rel=publisher
Google plus has been around for a while now and it’s also (unsurprisingly) implemented into Google’s search results. You may have seen peoples picture next to results or a company’s Google+ page next to results.

There are two tags, unfortunately at the moment rel=publisher isn’t as helpful as its counterpart rel=author.  The publisher tag is pointing towards a company’s Google plus page.

author

Here is how it looks:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/yourpageID" rel="publisher">Find us on Google+</a>

This lives in the head of your HTML with your page ID. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to see results.

The rel=author works in a very similar way and would look like this:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/yourpageId?rel=author">Google</a>

Then you would need to sign into your personal Google plus page and set it up so that your profile points to the page your trying to set up

  1. Sign in to your Google profile.
  2. Click Edit profile.
  3. Click the Contributor To section on the right (depending on how many photos you have, you may need to scroll to see this section), and then click Add custom link.
  4. If you want, change the visibility of your link, and then click Save.

Then it’s a waiting game. You can test its sets up correctly via the data testing tool.

Hopefully it should look something like this when its done:

author2

Again this isn’t a guarantee you will get a picture next links on results.

The basics of how the authorship works is on your Google plus page your telling people I’ve created content on this page a bit like an author signs their books.

There are some good plugins for doing the above if you’re still struggling.

Now there are other tags (e.g categories tag for archiving ) but the above are some of the most used or the most helpful, I welcome suggestions in the comments below.

Whilst all of the above tags are great you can still get along fine without them  and some of them are for certain situations but at least when that situations comes up hopefully you will now have a better idea of how or where to use them.

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Author Greg Painter

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