Archive for September, 2011

What Are Meta Tags and How Do They Work?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Search engines are in the business of giving searchers what they are looking for, so they are always looking for information that describes what every page on your website is about. You can help the search engines by using meta tags.

Meta tags are snippets of code in the source code of a web page that give the search engines information about that web page. While a person viewing the web page doesn’t see them, the search engines do. There are about a dozen different meta tags but two are most important for our purposes: the Title tag and the Description tag. Their names pretty much tell you what they do. The Title tag is the title of the page and the Description tag is a brief description of what that page is about.

 

How Meta Tags Help

The search engines will rank your web pages for the words in your Title tag. How high the search engines place your web pages in the search results depends on whether you’re doing other things right and how many other sites are competing for those same key phrases. While the search engines don’t use the Description tag as a factor in your rankings, the Description tag is still very important. The Description tag should “make the sale by enticing the searcher to click on your listing in the search results as opposed to your competitors.

You might have heard that you should use the Keyword meta tag too, but don’t bother. In the early days of the internet the Keyword meta tag was a list of words to help the search engines understand what the web page was about. But search engines don’t give any importance to the keyword meta tag any more. Frankly, all it does is tell your competitors what you’re trying to rank for and possibly give them ideas for key phrases they should try to rank for too.

Meta tags are REALLY important! In fact, I’ve had more than one client’s site get on the first page of the search results just by adding or changing meta tags. Even sites programmed in search engine un-friendly languages like Flash can see rankings improve by adding meta tags.

 

Meta Tags at Work

Meta Tags in the Search Results

You can see the Title and Description tags at work by doing a simple web search. Here is the first search result when I type “growing dahlias” into Google.

Meta tags in the search engines.

 

The Title tag of the page is the first line of text that is blue and underlined. In this case, the title tag is “Planting, Growing and Caring for Dahlias.” The words “growing” and “dahlias” are bold because they were words used in the search. If the search term had been “caring for dahlias,” those words would have been in bold instead.

The next 2 lines of text are the Description tag. In this case the description is “A guide to the care and cultivation of Dahlia plants, with tips on planting, digging and winter storing.”

 

Meta Tags on Your Website

The following is the source code of the webpage. The Title tag is outlined in red and the Description tag is outlined in blue.

Meta tags in the source code.

 

Besides helping your website rank better for your key phrases, well written meta tags ideally make the searcher click on your listing instead of your competitor’s. If your web page doesn’t have meta tags, the search engines pull a snippet of text from the page and display that instead. There’s no guarantee they will use text that works to your advantage. So, I strongly recommend you check your meta tags and make sure each page has a unique title and description tag. If not, write them and have your programmer add them. It shouldn’t cost very much to add them and they’re definitely worth the return on investment.

Click here for a PDF version of “What Are Meta Tags and How Do They Work?

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Facebook Strategy: Friend or Fan?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

When you “are the business” (i.e. artist, author or consultant), it’s challenging to figure out where you end as a person and where you begin as a “brand.” It’s crucial that you think though this boundary and are aware of it when using Facebook. Far too often individuals who are the business simply set up a Facebook profile and start Friending anybody and everybody.

I have worked with many business owners who have come to regret not thinking through their Facebook strategy before jumping in. This blog post is the result of hard lessons learned.

Facebook Profile vs. Facebook Fan Page

Before I explain the different between a Friend and a Fan, you need to understand the difference between a personal profile and a Fan page. Facebook’s primary purpose is as a personal networking site. They want real people to connect and share information with other real people. That is why you start by setting up a personal profile.

The Facebook terms of service clearly states in several places that you cannot have more than one account. For example, I cannot set up an account as myself, Elgé Premeau, and then set up another account as my business, eMarketing Strategist. If I do this and Facebook finds out, they will shut down both accounts. So, how do I create both a personal and professional presence on Facebook?

This is where Fan pages come in. I start by creating a personal account as Elgé Premeau. From that account, I set up an eMarketing Strategist Fan page. My personal account is the parent account and my Fan page is a sub-account. While you can only have one personal profile, you can have as many Fan pages as you want.

 

Here is a screen shot of the home page of my personal account

 

Keep in mind my feed – the updates from my Friends in the center column – is constantly changing as my Friends post updates.

 

 

 


 

Here is a screen shot of my eMarketing Strategist Fan Page.

 

It’s easy to manage my Fan page from my personal account. All I have to do is go here:

 

Friend vs. Fan

 

 

 

Now let’s get into the distinction between a Friend and a Fan. The people you connect with via your personal account are called Friends and the people you connect with via your Fan page are Fans. In general, you have a two way conversation with Friends and a one way conversation with Fans. Here are some important distinctions between Friends and Fans:

 

 

 

 

Why Set Up a Fan Page?

 

 

 

So why take the extra effort to set up and learn how to use a Fan page? Let me elaborate on the problem with some of the distinctions above:

  1. Privacy – I don’t Friend people I don’t know now in real life largely for privacy concerns. If you don’t know people, you don’t know what they’re doing with your personal profile information.
  2. Number of Connections – If you’re using Facebook to build a platform, you want to have tens or hundreds of thousands of people reading your updates. But if you only have a personal account, you’re limited to 5,000 connections.
  3. Fun and Enjoyment – Friending strangers takes all the fun out of Facebook. If you’ve got hundreds or thousands of “friends” you don’t actually know, your feed is cluttered with updates from people you don’t care about. Also, you can’t be yourself. You’ve got worry about offending somebody or sounding unprofessional. Boring!

 

 

 

 

And the Biggest Problem of All???

You cannot change someone’s status from Friend to Fan.

 

 

 

 

If you blithely Friend everybody who will accept your invitation, there WILL come a day when you decide to do something about it. Many times I’ve had to explain to a frustrated business owner that you cannot change someone from a Friend to a Fan.

 

 

 

And frankly, I have not found a nice way to say,
“I don’t want to be your Friend anymore but you could be my Fan!”

 


 

 

 

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