Satisfying the Search Engines - Key Words Meta Tag

The keywords meta tag provides a way to suggest keywords the search engine should use to index your site. The search engines actually index virtually all the words on your site; the keywords meta tag provides a way to allow your site to be found with searches under other words, which aren't actually listed on your page. An example of this is the keywords 'nonsports' and 'collecting', which I have added to my site. A more generic term for the Star Trek cards on my site, used by people in the card collecting field, are nonsports cards. Also, I have trading on my site, but the word collecting isn't explicitly used. By providing these two words in my keywords list, someone searching on 'collecting nonsports cards' would have a good chance of finding my site (Mecklermedia, META Tagging).

A hypothetical example of a keywords meta tag is:
<META NAME="KeyWords" CONTENT="star,trek,deep,space,nine,Skybox,trading,cards,card,nonsports,non-sports, trade,trades,collecting,card collecting,collections">.

It is really easy to get carried away with keywords, and there is a length limit to the keyword meta tag for most search engines. The problem arises when we start considering word tenses, phrase searching, and capitalization. It is best to just try and use the major words that you believe people will use when they search for your site and list them all in lowercase. People usually use phrase searching when they get too many results, or when they have a reason to look for a specific phrase. Only a few of the search engines provide case sensitive searches, and most people actually usually perform searches all in lowercase, even when it is a proper name (Sullivan, Capitalization). These problems aren't as bad as they may appear, for more information, see the complete article on capitalization by Sullivan.

To validate the types of searches people perform, it is actually possible to watch searches being performed on the Internet. I have identified two such places where you can eavesdrop on people using search engines. The first site is http://www.metaspy.com. This site lets you see random searches being performed on the MetaCrawler search engine. There are two flavors of this spy, one filters out obscene or inappropriate words, the other provides a true, uncensored sample of the searches. The second site, voyeur, allows you to spy on the Magellan search directory in the same manner. Its address is http://voyeur.mckinley.com/cgi-bin/voyeur.cgi. The voyeur search is unfiltered and may display 'inappropriate' material.


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By Robert Corfman - 10/11/98