It's often scoffed at now but the traditional meta-description and meta-keywords tags can offer you some valuable SEO oomph!
The metadata tags are lines of code that appear in the <head> section of your website. It's not visible on the live site for general users unless they are deliberately viewing the source code. The importance of metadata has fluctuated over the years and although meta-data was originally intended to assist search engines with indexing sites, Google, Yahoo & Bing rely on their own complex algorithms instead.
By themselves the meta-keywords don't amount to anything valuable. The keywords are not visible on the live site so editors can easily take liberties, adding keywords that don't actually have relevance to the site. For this reason they are often deemed irrelevant but there are a few Joomla features that make use of the meta keywords in SEO beneifical ways...
- The HD-Meta-display module outputs the meta-keywords from an article into a module position (see the bottom of this page for an example). The value of the keywords increases considerably if they can be seen by the general user.
- The Related Article Module uses the individual keywords to create internal links to other articles that share at least one key word.
- The Banner Module can determine which banner to display based on these key words.
The meta-description is displayed in Google's search results if the search term is included within the text. Otherwise the description they use is generated themselves (often the first sentance on the webpage). However rather than stuffing the description with valuable keywords it is more beneficial to make the description sound enticing. Remember this snippet will be competing against similar ones in somebody's search engine results list.
In Joomla 2.5 both the Meta-Keywords & Meta-description tags are only displayed if you have entered them in (whereas in Joomla 1.5 the tags would be generated even if they were empty.)
By default the meta-generator tag is displayed as "Joomla! - Open Source Content Management". There are many downsides to this...
- First of all it spells out that the site was built with Joomla, notifying potential hackers how the site was built and what version you are using.
- Furthermore search engines actually take notice of sites that contain generators belonging to out-of-date (or no longer supported) Content Management Systems.
However changing this meta-tag is a simple enough process. Read this to learn how the generator tag can be changed.
A more recent form of meta data was introduced by Facebook. The Open Graph Protocol is the markup used by Facebook to map and categorise websites into it's own social search engine. The metadata includes standard information (such as page title, type, URL, description & site name) as well as location information (latitude, longitude, address, region and country) and contact details (email address, telephone number & fax number).
If you share a link on facebook, the page title, description and thumbnail image are all pulled from this metadata. If the page they try to share doesn't contain their metadata then Facebook will have a guess and sometimes offer a selection of thumbnail images to display (instead of the one chosen by you).
We've built a plug-in for you to embed Open Graph metadata into your Joomla site automatically.
With the growing popularity of social media it's important that your site is correctly represented in the Facebook community.