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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Importance of Meta Tags and Solid Copy in Web Development

Part of the occasional, ongoing Intrepid Expertise Series

By Aaron S. Robertson


Before we begin, read an article I authored a while back for the online magazine Suite101 titled, Meta Tag Keywords: Still Necessary for a Truly Optimized Website. This brief article will give you an unbiased history of the meta tag keyword and explain why there are Web designers and online marketers out there that are skeptical these days over the relevance of meta keywords in modern search engine results.

The Case Study

Recently, we secured a deal with Simple Solutions. Simple Solutions is a fully-insured and licensed general contractor servicing metro-Milwaukee and surrounding southeastern Wisconsin.

Our work for Simple Solutions is mostly going to entail copy writing, search engine optimization, and consulting. We didn't design Simple Solutions' Web site, which is still a work in progress. However, for purposes of continuity, combined with his excellent programming skills and the fact that we know him, we wanted the original designer to stay on the job, with us coming in to the picture largely as a consultant.

Before we started the project, Simple Solutions' Web site had no search results. The only way people would see the site is if they happened to know its exact address. That would soon change within a few days because of what you're going to read here...

Meta Tag Data

The first task that we set out to tackle is revising the meta tag data that the designer had originally come up with for the Web site.

The meta title tag, which is what you see at the very top-left corner of a Web site (one tightly-focused and brief sentence or statement), originally only said "Simple Solutions". The meta description tag, which is not outwardly visible to a viewer of a Web site but is used by search engines to briefly describe Web sites that pop up in searches, was extremely generic, as were the meta keywords. Both the meta description tag and the meta keywords used terms such as "contractors", "snow plowing", "landscaping", "custom decks", etc.

Now, we're certainly not criticizing or making fun of the designer here. On the contrary, we're using this as an example because this is a problem many Web sites out there are facing, and it definitely hurts search results.

While it is true that Simple Solutions is a contractor that handles tasks and projects like snow plowing, landscaping, custom decks, etc., the problem is that these terms alone are far too generic. Even the name of the business, Simple Solutions, when used alone, is far too generic, because there are many, many more businesses out there across the map operating with the same name. The Web site will not show up in search results with terms like these.

So, we used more descriptive terms that narrow down specifics like geographic location. Instead of having just "Simple Solutions" in the meta title tag, we advised the designer to change it to: "Simple Solutions: Fully-insured Contractor Serving Southeastern Wisconsin". We replaced the meta description tag with: "A Muskego-based, fully-insured general contractor serving metro-Milwaukee and surrounding southeastern Wisconsin. Call for a free quote." We came up with meta keywords like: "metro-milwaukee general contractors, southeastern wisconsin general contractors, fully-insured contractors in milwaukee, general contractors in muskego, general contractors in waukesha county, metro-milwaukee landscaping firms, milwaukee-area building trades, southeastern wisconsin roofing, snow plowing in southeastern wisconsin".

In short, we took terms that were originally too broad and hence would have made the site unsearchable, and we narrowed them down so that searchers looking for these kinds of services in the geographic area(s) that Simple Solutions is located in, can find this business.


After we produced strong meta data for the site, the next step was to produce equally strong copy that would work in harmony with the meta data.

Originally, the home page of the site only had Simple Solutions' logo and a phone number to call. Again, this is not to mock the designer of the site in any way, and, to be fair, the site was still a work in progress when we came on to the scene, and it still is. On the contrary, this makes for another great example to use as a teaching point, because many Web sites out there lack sufficient, tightly-focused, quality copy that clearly defines, without going on and on, what the business is, where it is located, and what it does.

In the end, we came up with the following paragraphs:

Simple Solutions is your source for all of your general contracting needs. With many years of proven experience, coupled with our phenomenal customer service, close attention to detail, and high integrity, it's no wonder our customers keep returning again and again, and that they trust us enough to refer their families and friends to us.

Though we're based in Muskego, we have several fully equipped locations servicing all of metro-Milwaukee and surrounding southeastern Wisconsin counties.

Call us today for a customized, complimentary quote.

From plumbing and roofing, to landscaping and snow removal, and just about every point in between, Simple Solutions is your source for the knowledge base, skill sets, and resources needed to get the job done right and in a timely fashion.

Our full list of services:

* Concrete patios, sidewalks, and drives
* Hardscaping pavers and retaining walls
* Custom decks and restoration
* Bobcat grading and backhoe excavating
* Hole auguring in 12", 18", and 42"
* Snowplowing, salting, stacking, and removal
* Trucking from single axle on up to quad axle
* Roofing, siding, seamless gutters, and windows
* Doors and garage doors
* All flooring, drywall, and remodeling
* Lawn cutting, fall cleanups, and aerations.

Within a matter of days, the clearly-defined copy, working in harmony with the meta data that we devised, allowed the Web site to begin appearing in Google search results on different search terms.

The cool thing about using Simple Solutions as the case study, or example, for this article: I just created another strong search result for that business.

Aaron Robertson is president of Intrepid Innovations Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Great tip. Makes sense to be location specific. I found this very useful.