Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to Add Metatags, and (maybe) get better Google search results

Awesome -- Google is finally sending searchers to Print To Online. I got my first two visitors from Google search yesterday: One came in on the search "permission to use a photo on a blog" and the other came in on "print to online."

Why do I care? Google referrals can account for 30 percent or more of your traffic. Getting Google and other search engines (but mostly Google) to recognize you as a trusted source can be key to your ultimate success. Those two visitors today could be 20 daily visitors in a couple of weeks, and 200 daily visitors in a year. Small beans, but I'll take it!

The other day when I first noticed that Google was spidering my site, I realized I hadn't taken care of a key housekeeping duty: I forgot to add metatags to my code.

MetaWhat, you ask?

Google looks for information about your site is in the HTML code that's operating under the hood on your site. Search experts are mixed on how much adding METATAG information will improve your Google search results; many now say it doesn't really help, but I do it anyways just in case.

Here's my friend Danny Sullivan, one of the world's leading experts on Google search, posting about Metatags on

The meta keywords tag allows you to provide additional text for crawler-based search engines to index along with your body copy. How does this help you? Well, for most major crawlers, it doesn't. That's because most crawlers now ignore the tag. ...

The meta keywords tag is sometimes useful as a way to reinforce the terms you think a page is important for ON THE FEW CRAWLERS THAT SUPPORT IT. For instance, if you had a page about stamp collecting -- AND you say the words stamp collecting at various places in your body copy -- then mentioning the words "stamp collecting" in the meta keywords tag MIGHT help boost your page a bit higher for those words.

It's enough to make the average person not bother, but I'll walk a mile for even a squirt more traffic from Google, so I inserted Metatags into my HTML anyways.

If you're interested in juicing your Google search results even a little bit, here's how to add Metatag info to your code.

SKILL LEVEL: MEDIUM. Absolute beginners WILL have trouble with this tip. Wait until you've been tinkering online for a few weeks before attempting.

DISCLAIMER: You can really mess up your blog messing with the HTML code. If you don't know what you're doing, you might want to skip this tip.

Okay, if you're up to the task, lets get down to business:

1. Sign in to Blogger. Click on the Dashboard (upper right)

Okay, don't freak out! If you've never seen HTML before this screen can be scary. Just take it slow, and follow directions carefully. The first thing we're going to do is SAVE YOUR CODE, so if you mess this up you can just copy and paste the original code back onto your blog.

CLICK on Download Full Template

Okay, now you're ready to get to work on the Metatags.

Go back to the Edit HTML page. Look at the code at the top of the page. You're going to see something like this:

< head>
< b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>

< title>< data:blog.pageTitle/>< /title>
< meta content='0V2lIRM+XlO6HX5DSSYDuQ0pe1OP8z+6iX5FoQB2saE=' name='verify-v1'/>< /span>

Okay, here's your instructions:

< head>
< b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>


< title>< data:blog.pageTitle/>< /title>


< span style="font-style:italic;">< META CONTENT='Training, tutorials and tips for print journalists looking to learn what they need to know to survive and thrive online' NAME='Description'/ >

< META CONTENT='Journalism, online, multimedia, Twitter, Blogging, how to blog, how to make money from blogs, marketing, SEO, placeblogging, hyperlocal, web publishing' NAME='Keywords'/>
< /span>

The first code block (the one that ends with "Description"/) tells search engines how to describe your site in search results.

The second code block (the one that ends with 'Keywords'/) tells search engines the keywords that you use to describe your site.

Obviously, the keywords posted above probably won't work for you. Your blog is about Food or sports or photography or something else. So before you save your changes, sub out my keywords for keywords that describe your site. Be careful not to touch any of the code (leave those quote marks where they are!)

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