Search Engine Optimization and the META Robots Tag
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Thanks to abusive spammers and webmasters, META tags have become virtually useless on the Web today. In the art of search engine optimization, you needn't bother with the META tags so much. However, there is one tag that all webmasters should include in their web pages. This is the META Robots Tag.
Here is the syntax for the META Robots Tag:
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
Like all META tags, you should place this between the HTML head tags. Now as for how to use this code in search engine optimization:
In the above example, you simply tell the Google (or whatever) spider to add the web page to the search engine's index and to follow (visit) all the links listed there. This means you don't have to list every single web page in Google or other search engine. Just list one that links to the other pages (and they in turn have the same Robots code as well). This is perhaps one of the first and most basic rules of search engine optimization: tell the spider what you want it to crawl, and how.
Now suppose your web site makes heavy use of graphic button links that spiders can't follow links in. You don't want to add text links either for every one of them. (Bad for search engine optimization practice actually-you should include text links heavy on keywords.) Here's an alternative: Make a plain index page listing all your web pages. Then enter this code:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow" />
This tells the spider to follow all the links but NOT to index that page itself. The page is "invisible." A drawback here is you'd have to update that page every time you add a new page to your site. It's much better to just include the listing page as a site map and make sure your visitors find it, and to include text links.
You have another option with this META Robots Tag: You can tell the spider/robot not to "archive" a cached copy of your web pages, like this:
<meta name="robots" content="index,follow,noarchive" />
If you use this option, make sure you keep multiple backups of your site-and keep them in separate places. Many a web site has been saved from disaster by Google's caching capability. Another plus that caching gives, so far as search engine optimization goes, is if your site's old content is cached, you get better chances of making hits. (Anything to get hits-well, almost anything, right?)
Other META tags you can use are the Keyword and Description Tags. We do not recommend them, especially the keywords. But include the Description Tag at least, and do not use it like the Keywords Tag. Description must be intelligible prose that tells a surfer in plain English what a web page contains. Also, if you're up to it, give a unique description for each of your pages. More work, but also more hits.
In search engine optimization, the META Tags have lost most of their value. However they do still have their uses. This is why META Tags are still a standard feature of web pages today.
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