Tips on New Google Metatags: How to Protect Your Content

Google recently announced the creation of new metatags to protect original content, so I thought it was as good a time as any to brush up a little, on the topic. My understanding of these new tags, is they for now, apply only to Google News.

According to Google, the new metatags are an experiment, allowing journalists to give more credit to original sources as well as better protecting their own original content, which includes mish-mashes, paraphrased summaries, and analyses of others’ content (see Matt McGee’s Search Engine Land post to see if you agree with this interpretation).

These additional links explain more about the new syndication-source and original-source tags:

Metatags 101

The Google Webmaster Tools Help site explains that metatags are added to the <head> section of your HTML page, providing search engines with information about your site. For more information, check out these resources:

  • Meta Tag Explained: Describes the two types of tags available: the Meta description tags and the Meta keywords tags. (Note: Neither tag is a Google ranking factor, according to a Google announcement, in Sept. 2009).
  • SEOMoz’s Meta Description: Describes the meta description tag and provides a cheat sheet for the HTML code. Also provides a useful tip that if you are targeting the long-tail, it’s sometimes better not to include a meta description. It is better to include the description, when you are targeting 1-3 heavily-searched terms/phrases.
  • Meta Tags Uncovered: Describes the two known styles/attributes that you’ll see for meta tags as well as a history on the abuse of keyword meta tags. Explains how Google currently only indexes Google Meta Tags. Provides a helpful list of recommended tags, optional tags, and not recommended tags.

Why Should You Use Metatags?

The posts below describe how using metatags helps you get found.

How to Write Metatags and Descriptions

The following links provide general guidance on writing metatags and descriptions:

  • How to Write Keyword Meta Tags: Explains that it’s important to understand how to write and use keyword tags. Though keyword metatags are not considered an important factor in search engine optimization (SEO), some search engines still pay attention to them.
  • How to Write Meta Tags and Descriptions:  Warns against over-stuffing meta information, with keywords and phrases.

Through the new syndication-source and original-source tags, Google metatags are certainly powerful, as they can help protect your original content as well as give due credit to others. In a similar way, misusing these metatags can earn you stiff penalties.

Applying metatags is also plain good usability, as it always has been.

Though keyword metadata may rank lower in search engines’ weighting factors, it’s important to remember that some search engines still take metadata into account. Metadata also makes your information more accessible and likely to be clicked on in search results.

For intended searchers’ sakes alone, and especially for those with disabilities who often rely on the metatag descriptions for further context, it’s worth the relatively small investment of time to incorporate these helpful tags.

Do you have any additional recommendations on resources about metadata or SEO? any advice or other feedback about the application of these tags? Please feel free to include your thoughts, in the comments.

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

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