How to choose the meta tags and meta data of your website
description, keywords, title, file name, ...

Click the < key > icon at the top of each page


What are the "meta tags" or "meta data" in my website ?

They are a part of the HTML code which constitutes the pages of your published site. These tags are used to document certain aspects of each page. There are different kinds of meta tags, each one has a distinctive role to play.


You can learn where to easily access them in each of your site's pages and how to format them on our Tools guide describing how to use the functionalities of the SimpleDifferent Website Editor. You will also find useful reminders if you click the "?" yellow bubble beside each field.

Let's talk a bit more about how meta data is most likely to be perceived by Search engines and therefore how to choose the right way to write it.


From myth to reality

Meta tags are not the single Search Engine Optimization tool. If you have been told that meta data is the only or even the main way to be understood and referenced by search engines, this is simply not true.

The tags are a confirmation of your content, a reference for Google and other search engines, to consider. The essential qualities of your site are already built into its content and the way you organize it, in the form of answers to the questions of your readers. 

These tags are a lot like a little bit of extra help you give to search engines. If your meta data fits with what Google thinks your site is about, it is a bonus in terms of being searched for and found. If the meta data does not reflect what you are actually talking about in the page it is linked to, it can have the opposite effect. 


How to add metadata to your website. 

You can access and edit all of the meta data by clicking the <key> icon at the top right of your SimpleDifferent editor. Beside each type of metadata you will find a ? by clicking this you will get useful information about what each is and what it is used for. 


Some of the meta tags are visible in search results, this is also where your reader will click

How the metadata is interpreted by search engines
and how to effectively write metadata. 


The <title> meta tag

The content of the meta tag "title" is what will appear at the top of your browser's window or tabs. It is important that this is an accurate reflection of your site's content but also that it is short enough to read at the top of pages. The title and description tags are favored by search engines as they provide very good insights about the content of your website. The title tag will also appear for readers in search results. 

You could also think of the title tag as being similar to the tabs. Both guide the reader by giving him a short description of where he is on the site. Each title should be different and unique for each page of your site.


The <Description> meta tag.

The description (of your page) is what your potential readers will see under the title when Google lists your site in its search results. The description should be two or three sentences that are a simple but detailed description of the contents of your page. The purpose of the description is to let the reader confirm that what they have searched for is actually what will be presented to them when they visit your page. Google also uses your description to make this same confirmation so you should be attempting to use the most important keywords that appear in the content of your page.

Think about how readers will read a search page in Google. They will read very quickly, scanning the titles and one or two keywords in the description. It is wise to make sure that the most important keywords come near the beginning of the description tag so that they are not missed by readers. 

Here again you should be careful to avoid superlatives. (the best, wonderful, most, excellent, etc) are all terms that Google and readers are suspicious of.


The <Keywords> meta tag

Often overrated, most probably not even such an important marker for Google, the meta keywords should still be documented. For each page, choose the 5 most significant words in your page, and place them here in order of importance.

Avoid using <keywords> that are not used in the actual content of your page. 


The "name of this file on server" tag.

is not actually a meta tag but it can be grouped here because it also helps readers and Google reference and understand your site.

  In the address of this very page:

  http://write-for-the-web.simdif.com/how-to-define-meta-tags.html

  "how-to-define-meta-tags" is the name of the file

This should be much like the title, it needs to be a description of the content of the page but it also needs to be very short. The name acts as both a way point for your readers in the address of you page (url) and a reference for Google to understand the content of your page.

  Note: Once you have a file name you should be careful of changing it. If you change the file name of any of the pages of your site, you also change its address. Links coming into this page will be lost. It is best to choose a file name carefully and then leave it.

  Note 2: for the first page of a site, the name of the file is always [index.html].

Help search engines understand and focus on what is important in your site

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Now your site is really taking shape. 
It is time to learn about how the search engines view your website.