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This course focuses on two elements of web development: accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO), demonstrating why they are important and how they work. Author Morten Rand-Hendriksen also shows how good coding practices and modern web standards can make a site accessible and more visible to search engines and social networks.
META tags are pieces of information hidden in the header of every web page that provide added information to the browser. The META tags are hidden from the regular browser window but are used both by browsers and search engines to understand and display additional information about your page. For Accessibility and SEO, there are two very important Meta tags you should always focus on, Title and Description. The Title tag provides the title for the page. When I say Title, I don't mean the heading or the first heading of the page; I literally mean the title of the page.
Each page has a name or a title. This title can be different from the title of the article itself. For instance, you could make an article called About me, whereas the title would be About Morten Rand- Hendriksen, so it's more specific. The accessibility of a Title tag is that it sets the page title before any other content, so the first thing that's read by a text-to-speech browser is the title. It also adds the title to the browser window or tab, so you will notice at the very top of your window you always see a name that displays the name of the page.
So you see at the top of your window or on your tab, you will always see text describing that page. This is the Title tag. The SEO benefit is similar. The title tag defines the index title for the page in search engines. That means, like my example before, if I have a title tag that says About Me, it doesn't really tell the search engine anything about this page, whereas, if it says, About Morten Rand-Hendriksen, anyone searching for information about Morten Rand-Hendriksen will see that result appear.
That means if you customize your title tag right, you can target specific keywords or queries in search engines with your title. Adding a title tag to your page is pretty straightforward. The title tag is literally a tag, so it starts with tag title and ends with /title. Also, if you are using a web developer application like Dreamweaver or Expression Web, the title tag is automatically added to every page. Unless you define it though, the title that's added by the application will usually be something like Untitled Page or Untitled 1.
In addition to the title tag, we have a meta tag for description. The description meta tag provides a short description of the content on the page. When I say short, I truly mean it. This is because search engines use this to index the page and if you put in a description that's longer than 160 characters, then the rest of that description will not be indexed, so try to keep it really short. The accessibility benefit of the description tag only kicks in if someone is using a text-to-speech browser or a phone browser or something else that actually picks up the description.
The main benefit of the description tag is in search engines and social networks. When you add a description tag, it shows up in the index of the search engine and also shows up when people share that page on social media. The meta tag itself can contain many different variables. In this case you want to use a description variable. So to add it, you first add the meta tag itself. You then add the name of the meta tag, in this case description, and then you add the content of the description before closing the meta tag. We can now add a title and a description tag to our page.
First, let's open our example project in our browser. You will see at the very top here on my Tab, it says Untitled 1, and if I go in and activate Firebug and look at the head component, I'll find title down here and title says, Untitled 1. So this is what I need to change. So I will open index in Notepad, and here at the very top on line 8, I find the title tag that currently says Untitled 1. So I will change this to Hansel, and because this is machine code, I can't simply use the ampersand sign, I have to put in the code for the ampersand sign, which is & for ampersand, and semicolon(;), Petal Flower Company.
Now if I want to target specific keywords or something in my Title tag, I can now add extra information. You shouldn't really cluster this with keywords, but you can write a very specific description. In this case, I'll say, Selling flowers and plants in Ventura, CA. So now if someone searches for flowers and plants in Ventura, California, they are likely to find this page. That's the title tag. I also want to add the description tag. So I will go over here and create a new line and then I will say meta and give the meta the name description, and then I can put in content.
So here I can write a longer description of what Hansel & Petal Flower Company is all about. I will say, Hansel... to themselves. I just have to end my meta tag, and now I can save the page, reload it in my browser, and we will see two things happen. First off, you see the title in my tab here has changed to Hansel & Petal Flower Company and if I right-click and go View Page info, you will see we now have a description: Hansel & Petal Flower Company is a premier flower company, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
More importantly, if I go to SenSEO now, and go Show Components, you will see we now have both a Title and a Meta-Description. You can take this further by adding Meta-Keywords. That would be done the same way. You go in and then you say, meta name keywords, and then content, and then you can add keywords, and then you can add keywords as well. The reason why I haven't added keywords in this case is because keywords are becoming less and less important. Search engines have discovered that people use keywords to target specific searches and often cluster their pages with extra keywords that have nothing to do with what's on the page.
So therefore, they are not indexing. That means what's important to you is the title and the meta name description. Adding title and description tags to your site puts you in control of what the search engines and social networks see when they only want the gist of what's on your page. Doing it right means you share important information about your page in a simple and concise way.
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