Top 10 MNI Newspapers by Circulation
Do I need META Tags
Short answer: As far as SEO is concerned, probably not.
Simply put, there is no search engine rankings benefit in adding Meta Tags to your page. In ancient times, Keyword Meta Tags were used by the search engines to help rank pages for specific keywords. Keyword Meta Tags were taken advantage of by optimizers and spammers (I know, it’s shocking). Search Engines smartened-up and no longer use them in their algorithms.
Meta Tag Descriptions are mostly unnecessary too. If you have good keywords in your content, your description will be pulled directly from there. That content is always more relevant to the search than writing your own generic description for the entire page. A really great description will not have any effect on where that page will show up in search results, only the page content will… but it may help induce someone to click on it if they do happen to find it.
Meta Tags may harm your Search Engine Results. Yup, you read that last line right. If your description has nothing to do with your content, it will hurt your rank for the given keywords. Remember to keep your content relevant all the way around. If you’re targeting 2 keywords for a page, make sure they relate in some way, and that the page content is relevant to them as well.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and your mileage may vary. One example is a large site’s homepage. If you look at the homepage for CNN you’ll see that it has a bunch of stories that aren’t really related, but when you search Google or Yahoo for CNN, they want to control the blurb displayed under their main link, they do this using their meta description tag:
CNN.com delivers the latest breaking news and information on the latest top stories, weather, business, entertainment, politics, and more. For in-depth coverage, CNN.com provides special reports, video, audio, photo galleries, and interactive guides.
Not surprisingly, CNN wrote a smart meta description. They mention things that will always be on their homepage.
What is Google Page Rank?
Google’s famed page rank is both well known and unknown. Everyone knows that a higher page rank is “good” because it means the Google robots think your page is “important”. On a 1-10 scale, the higher the better.
You can get the Google Toolbar which shows you Page Rank and start obsessing today!
Looking for sites that rank at the very top starts with Google – not surprisingly, but right on their heels is Adobe. Adobe is linked to by millions of pages for their products, this certainly helps their entire site.
Adobe Reader has a PR of 9, other Adobe pages rank 10. Certainly we have all seen the links to Adobe’s PDF reader, all those links tell Google, “Adobe is important and trusted”.
Others that rank up at the very top include whitehouse.gov, nsf.gov and mit.edu
Some news sites include a PR of 9 for the New York Times and CNN. The Drudge Report is showing an 8.
I think you can see that all of those sites are seen as “important and trusted”.
If you could get lots of links from some of sites like those listed, you would certainly see an increase in your site’s page rank.
The downside of constantly checking your site’s page rank is that there is really no way to do it. Google only “releases” page rank a few times a year, often unannounced. And when they do, the data is already “old”, usually at least a couple of months.
So while “real page rank” may still be an important part of how Google views your site, only the internal Google engineers know what it really is. The simple Google Toolbar number they display is just a rough estimate for you.
SEO as an afterthought
Working for one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States is sometimes surprising.
When McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder I was in the trenches of moving those KR sites off their existing platform to ours. We thought through some things, but some we just completely ignored. SEO was one of them.
About a year ago we started to go back and try to remedy that oversight, and it’s been ugly.
Some sites had 60+ H1 tags on a page, many pages had hundreds of heading tags. Slowly we helped the sites clean up the terrible code we burdened them with. We used many of the great tools at SEOmoz to clear out the kruft.
When we started to actually do real SEO for a couple of sites, we woke the sleeping giants. Then the sleeping giants heard from their bosses that they wanted their pages to rank higher. With only cursory SEO information coming out of our offices for the previous year or so, there was a real hunger.
The SEO information that was being pushed out of the marketing department was very vague and in some cases, outdated, or in some cases, just plain wrong.
I had been with the company 2 years and was completely unaware that we even offered any SEO help. Since I worked in the CMS with and for our sites everyday, that struck me as a problem. When we hired a new marketing person to be in charge of search engine marketing, I decided we needed to get to her early.
A few of us started to push her and her boss that they couldn’t actually do their job as effectively without involving us. It sounded like we were bragging, but soon they realized that dictating to the sites, just means, the sites turn around and ask us to implement the edicts.
Soon we injected ourselves into the flow in a more proactive manner, and things started to move forward. We spoke to marketing and explained that some of their basic assumptions were wrong. Since they had little technical understanding of how the CMS functioned, they were making bad decisions. Once we got marketing up to speed, the sites started getting much better information.
We had spent a year or more stuck in the mud because of two problems, lack of communication and lack of planning.
As we move to redesign 20 of our sites, SEO has been included from the beginning. Our code is cleaner, affiliates out in the field are better armed, marketing is better informed and we are actually starting to measure results.
All steps in the right direction
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