E-Commerce Fundamentals (IX) - Meta tags without Tears - How to attract customers to your site ?

Creating an attractive and useful website is half the job done - your ultimate purpose is to attract buyers to your products. Left to itself, your website has as much chance of being noticed as a grain of sand in sea beach. There are billions of web-pages in the www sphere - how does the customers find your website ?

There are many ways of attracting customers to your website - but probably the most important is to use search engines.

Most surfers use search engines to locate websites - arguably the most popular Internet application after e-mail. Your website should not only be in the database of major search engines (Yahoo, Alta Vista etc.) but also rank among the top 15-20 sites in any search result using your product as keyword.

For this to happen, one of the key requirements is a set of carefully designed meta tags for your web pages.

To understand meta tags, we need to discuss a little on how search engines work. As we all know, search engines collect information about web-sites, index and finally store it in searchable database for retrieval by web surfers.

Most search engines use automated tools (an euphemism for computer programs) to locate web-sites and collect relevant information. These are called 'spiders'. Just as real-life spiders run up and down its cob web, web spiders crawl through thousands of web-pages and collect relevant information for search engines.

Web spiders look for meta tags in web-page for extracting relevant information about a web-site. This is an excellent opportunity for you to pass right information about your site to the search engine so that you are 'indexed' under the category of your choice.

Meta tags, are a few simple lines of code at the header of HTML pages that ensure the visiting spider finds the information you want it to. The two tags that are the most important are the "description" tag and the "keywords" tag. The description tag gives the search engine the description that you want for your web site. Without this tag, search engines will usually take the first text it finds from your site and make that the description.

The keywords tag tells the search engine exactly which keywords you want your site to be searchable under. Without this tag, a search engine will choose words for your site to be searchable under from the title and text of your site.

Without meta tags, spiders either do not index your site or use a default method that will certainly result in poor ranking of your site. Remember, if your site does not appear within top 15-20 sites in any search result using your product as keyword - not many surfers are going to find your site from the search engine.

It should be understood that meta tags are not a turnkey solution for getting your site to the top of search engine lists. They will help to get your site indexed correctly and they increase the relevancy for the keywords you choose but they do not guarantee top placement.

I can almost hear you screaming 'I am Not an Expert - How do I create right Meta Tags ??? '

Next week, We shall discuss a few simple techniques and free resources in the Net that will help you set out on the right course.

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol II, Issue 25' November 28' 2001

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at amit@infobanc.com )

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