AltaVista will index your site according to its metatags. As previously mentioned, metatags are special HTML tags that provide information about your Web page. They provide information about who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content.

Below are several pointers to follow to create effective metatags:

  • Choose your keywords wisely. The number of keywords used in your metatags should be based on your search engine strategy, whether target or blanket. When deciding on specific words, put yourself in your customers' shoes - what words are they likely to use? For example, if you sell facial moisturizing cream, you might want to consider using "dry skin" or "wrinkles" as keywords. Why? Because your users might search based on the problem they want to fix rather than the product they think will fix it.
  • Make all your keywords plural. If your keyword is "poodles," your site will come up when someone searches for "poodle" or "poodles." However, if your keyword is "poodle," your site won't come up if someone searches for "poodles."
  • Avoid common words such as "Web" and "Internet." They are so common that they apply to almost every Web site. In fact, spiders often ignore these words altogether.
  • Use "keyword phrases." A keyword phrase is a group of words in a particular order. Many people enter two or three keywords into their search strings, not just one. So instead of listing your keywords like this: "gardens, herbs, plants," you might use a keyword phrase such as "herb gardens." To see real-life examples of search terms that people use, check out MetaSpy.
  • Make sure you use effective page titles. Spiders (also known as robots) consider the title of a page the best indicator of its content. If your page title includes a keyword used in a customer's search string and your competitors use the same keyword in the "bodies" of their pages, your page will appear first in the search results.
  • Make your titles clear and descriptive. They are the "clickable link" that people follow from the search engine results to your page. For instance, if you sell music on your site, the title "Discount CDs and Tapes" is far superior to "Welcome to Simon's Really Cool Music" for someone interested in purchasing music. Why? Because "Discount CDs and Tapes" tells you exactly what you will find on the site, while "Welcome to Simon's Really Cool Music" doesn't.
  • Consider the keyword density of your body text. If someone is searching for "toy poodles" and your page has only two words on it ("toy poodles"), you have 100% density. Consequently, your site will be listed higher in the search results than a site with a body text keyword density of 80%. Keep your body keywords toward the top of your document, in headings and the first few paragraphs. Always try to use heading tags (e.g., the H1, H2, and H3 commands in HTML), as opposed to font tags (e.g., "font size=7"), because they tend to yield better search engine results.

You can also use tools to help you generate metatags. There are a number of online products that will generate or help generate your metatags, including AAA Internet Promotions' Meta Tag Generator,'s META-tag generator, and META builder 2. Note, though, that while all these products can simplify the process of choosing metatags, they can't do all the work for you.

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