Keyword Voodoo! Invisible Metatag Mumbo Jumbo
Posted on September 24, 2003
Keyword Voodoo! Invisible Metatag Mumbo Jumbo
By Mike Banks Valentine
Search Engine Optimization clients often ask about secret keywords as if there is some sort of Keyword Voodoo that only Search engine optimization specialists understand.
Rather than simply using keywords liberally in page text, web site owners seem to believe if they use them in those invisible meta tags, that it will improve their ranking for keywords that aren't on the visible part of the page.
Clients attempt to use site-wide keywords that reference all the products they sell from every page on the site! This widely misunderstood tactic actually hurts ranking rather than helping it. Here's an easy rule of thumb.
If the keyword isn't in the page body text in the single page you are looking at, don't use it in any meta tags. If you feel you must use the keyword in meta tags, then you must also insert it into the visible page text. Not into images or their alt tags, not in title attributes, not in directory names or image names, IN BODY TEXT. If you ignore this recommendation, you dilute relevance of any keywords that ARE in body text. Start on the page!
Clients get caught up in arcane minutia of SEO worrying over details that they don't understand, taken out of context from articles they've seen or arguments they've read in discussion lists. A litany of questions ensues.
Am I better off with generic keywords or brand specific keywords? Do I make special landing pages with targeted keyword phrases, or better yet, keyword domains focusing only on specific keywords? Do I put my best keywords all over the page or put them at the top for more relevance? Should I use those important keyword phrases in a title tags even if they aren't on the page? How about comment tags, alt text tags, noframes tags, and noscript tags?
If you insist on believing in keyword voodoo, I suggest that you concentrate on the no voodoo tag. <novoodoo>
For those of you who actually want to rank well in the
search engines for your important keyword phrases, and
who don't want to spend time burning candles, chanting
incantations and poking keyword pins into voodoo dolls,
I suggest you learn the simplest of all SEO rules.
Put your keywords in the text on your web page! If the keywords aren't already included within the body text of your web site in sufficient density, then it won't matter what HTML tags you use or where you put them.
Often clients react with intense surprise when I tell them that the keywords they are targeting are nowhere to be found on their home page and we need to add them.
One surprised site owner pointed to the graphic images across the top and bottom of their pages where keyword phrases loomed in giant stylized type across the page. They asked about the menu bar along the left of their site template, "You know, those that change color as you hover your mouse over them?" Sorry, those are images.
The solution is NOT in the images with words painted on them by fancy graphics programs, but in real body text.
Here's a quick test I recommend to clients. Visit your site home page online. Go to the browser menu, choose "Edit" and then "Select All". This highlights all text on the page. Then go again to the browser menu, again choose "Edit" then click on "Copy", which will copy that highlighted text to your clipboard. Now open up Notepad from your Windows "Start" menu by choosing the "Programs", then "Accessories" and finally "Notepad".
When the blank page of Notepad text editor opens, paste the text you've copied from your page into it by going to the Notepad menu bar, choosing "Edit" then "Paste". Many who don't do their own design work are startled by how few words of text actually appear when doing this little test. This serves as a wake-up call when they experience this demonstration and begin to come to an understanding that this text is all the search engines see, or care about.
This text shows clearly that not everything that you can see on the page is actual text. Much of it is made up of images with stylized text painted on to them by a graphics program. What you see on that Notepad page now is your visible body text. That text that you now have in front of you is all that matters to the search engines. They don't care about the images or invisible Voodoo meta tags.
Even then, surprised clients blurt, "We included those keywords in the invisible HTML code on the page lots of times in special (Voodoo) meta tags our developer used."
Entrepreneurs often hire developers based on stellar client lists or personal recommendations from partners or even staff members, but search engine optimization is rarely understood to be among the skill sets needed within web design jobs. SEO is done only by specialist Keyword Voodoo practitioners that come in later to save site owners from "invisible HTML tags" haunting their keyword-less pages.
What do SEO's do? Add the keywords to the body text -
FIRST, before anything else is done. There are clearly
additional things we do as well, but the path to highly
ranked web pages is not in the HTML that you CAN'T see,
it is right in the body text of the page in the form of
visible words on the page.
About the Author
Mike Banks Valentine is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist practicing ethical SEO for Online businesses http://SEOptimism.com
Take our Search Engine Quiz to test your Skills Level http://SearchEngineOptimism.com/search_engine_quiz.html
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