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    meta Statements in an Include Statement

    I picked this forum for my question because its description referred to SEO. I hope I'm in the right place.

    I use include statements for my header, standard menu, and footer. For example:

    <!--#include file="Footer.html" -->

    The strategy, of course, is to be able to change one file and have the change reflected on all the pages.

    My question is this. As we add new pages to the Web site, I'd like to add new words and phrases to the meta keyword statement to reflect these new pages. But that means adding them to every page of the Web site, a herculean task! To avoid this, I'd like to put the meta statements into a separate file and use an include statement. But the critical question is this: will the search engines still be able to read (find) the meta statements?

    OR...maybe there's something I don't know about meta statements and search engines. Do I need the meta statements on regular pages? Maybe the search engines look at meta statements only on index.html. Do they have any effect on other pages of the Web site?

    Thanks.

    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenmorgan View Post
    My question is this. As we add new pages to the Web site, I'd like to add new words and phrases to the meta keyword statement to reflect these new pages. But that means adding them to every page of the Web site, a herculean task! To avoid this, I'd like to put the meta statements into a separate file and use an include statement. But the critical question is this: will the search engines still be able to read (find) the meta statements?
    When you dynamically build a page on the server side it outputs as a single page to the user. No one sees how it was built but you.

    OR...maybe there's something I don't know about meta statements and search engines. Do I need the meta statements on regular pages? Maybe the search engines look at meta statements only on index.html. Do they have any effect on other pages of the Web site?
    Engines look for meta data on all pages that they are able to index but one global message is not optimal. The fields should speak to that page.
    - Ted S

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    Thanks so much, Ted. I have two follow-up questions.

    (1) Let me see if I understand your answer. I thought that perhaps the search engine spiders and crawlers could actually look at the server's public_html directory and then scan a specific .html file. IF that was what they did, then they would not see anything I put into an include file. However, I think you are saying that they don't look at a file on a server directory; instead, they see only the server-side-built result that browsers see. I am interpreting you correctly?

    (2) Regarding your second comment, I can see the point of limiting the keywords to what applies to one page only. But should I put the entire set of keywords covering the whole Web site on index.html?

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    Ken,

    I wonder if I can jump in.

    Essentially, the search engine's spider sees what the browser sees. Whatever techniques you use to generate content on the server, the browser ultimately receives an HTML file. It is that file that the spider indexes.

    Or, to put it another way, if you were to view the page in the browser, and use the View Source feature to examine the page's source code, you would be seeing exactly what the spider sees (actually, that's not 100 percent right, but it's close enough for the purpose of this discussion).

    Regarding the meta data, the first point is that keywords are completely irrelevant to SEO. In this context, when I say "keywords", I mean a <meta> tag with a "keywords" attribute. None of them major search engines look at that tag.

    But it's a different story with a <meta> tag with a "Description" attribute. That doesn't have an effect in search engine ranking (at least, not in Google; it might with other engines). But it does influence the snippet text that searchers see in their results pages, and for that reason it is important to get it right.

    What you should aim to do is to make each description as relevant as possible to the page in question - not to the site as a whole. Remember, each page is indexed independently, so the description on one page has no relevance to any other page.

    You asked if you should put keywords for the entire site in index.htm. As stated above, keywords are irrelevant. But even if you read "description" for "keywords", the answer is still no. Index.htm (or any other file used as a home page) has no special significance in this regard. As far as the search engine is concerned, it's just another page on your site. In fact, in many cases, it's not a particularly important page from the search point-of-view, as it's often not the page that contains the information the searcher ultimately needs.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if anything needs clarifying.

    Mike

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    It's perfectly fine to include your meta tags or even your entire header. The spiders are going to read it as plain text after your server include your header/meta tags. I used to do this on my websites is have my meta keywords, desc and title as PHP variables. It just makes it easier.

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    Thanks, Mike, your explanation was quite clear.

    Regarding search engines ignoring a meta "keywords" statement, a few days ago I ran across this article:

    http://searchengineland.com/sorry-ya...ords-tag-27743

    Of course, you'll notice the date is 2009. Maybe things have changed.

    If it's true that all major search engines today ignore these key words, that astonishes me. Why would they do such a thing? The whole purpose of supplying keywords is so the search engines know what Web site pages are relavent to someone's search phrase. It would seem to me that using the keywords would be the most accurate way to index pages in the search engine's database.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenmorgan View Post
    If it's true that all major search engines today ignore these key words, that astonishes me. Why would they do such a thing? The whole purpose of supplying keywords is so the search engines know what Web site pages are relavent to someone's search phrase. It would seem to me that using the keywords would be the most accurate way to index pages in the search engine's database.
    When the web was young [and remember, yahoo is an old name] people would be pretty accurate about their site's value and the engines trusted that. It was as you said, a great way to know things. But honesty lasted for about 15 minutes. As ads and ecommerce grew, sites started to to keyword stuff and not just a little deviation... they'd make pages with hidden text [black font, black background], throw in meta keywords and boom, rank for something they had nothing to do with. The engines were stuck because learning more about a page was hard. As technology expanded that changed and Google launched with a whole new methodology... they were able to parse far deeper, to see links, to filter what people actually saw, and that's grown and grown and grown. Meta data remains useful for explaining a page back to the end user [which is vital to get them to actually click and thus part of your rank indirectly] but the keyword tag's utility as a descriptor, long gone.

    No one can say for sure that every engines completely ignores the tag but it's pretty obvious that most do little, if anything, with it.

    Keep in mind that there is other meta data used out there. Facebook has the opengraph structure to determine what to say about a page when it's liked. Google and others use structured formats to understand product information and reviews. That may not boost your rank but search is only a part of traffic. Don't let it be your sole focus.
    - Ted S

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    Most interesting, Ted. Yes, dishonesty and plain maliciousness has damaged something that could have been so wonderful.

    However, I have a question regarding your statement:

    Google and others use structured formats to understand product information and reviews. That may not boost your rank but search is only a part of traffic. Don't let it be your sole focus.
    All my Web sites are completely none commercial. I sell nothing. Our magnum opus Web site is

    http://rediscoveringthebible.com

    Except for a few links coming into to me, isn't my search ranking about all I have for people to find me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenmorgan View Post
    Except for a few links coming into to me, isn't my search ranking about all I have for people to find me?
    Think about how you use the web yourself... Have you ever read a news article with a link? Ever seen a friend share something on a social network? Ever been to curated directory or content site? Search is for when people go looking but most of life is spent discovering.
    - Ted S

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenmorgan View Post
    Regarding search engines ignoring a meta "keywords" statement, a few days ago I ran across this article:
    http://searchengineland.com/sorry-ya...ords-tag-27743
    ...
    If it's true that all major search engines today ignore these key words, that astonishes me. Why would they do such a thing?
    As you say, Ken, that article is almost certainly out of date. In any case, it only applied to Yahoo. Google has stated many times that they don't index keywords in the <meta> tag.

    As for why that is so, Google says that their policy is only to index the text that a visitor can actually see within their browser. None of the current browsers actually display the keywords (other than for people viewing the source code), so the engines treat them as if they didn't exist.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikl View Post
    As you say, Ken, that article is almost certainly out of date. In any case, it only applied to Yahoo. Google has stated many times that they don't index keywords in the <meta> tag
    Whatever might have been announced that Google is no more of using Meta tag contents but, I don't know if you accept the truth or not, the meta content is also considered in some cases to assign the keyword of a particular page in its index. Meta tag content usage for SERP resulting may be old school play but it is still be used in practice in certain cases to display the SERP results.
    Thanks Mikl

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    Quote Originally Posted by varul View Post
    Meta tag content usage for SERP resulting may be old school play but it is still be used in practice in certain cases to display the SERP results.
    Agreed, but, as I said before, we've got to distinguish between meta tags in general, and specific meta tags like Description and Keywords.

    A meta tag is simply any tag in the HTML head that contains meta data for the page. The meta data might be keywords or a description, but it might also be the author's name, the last revision date, the refresh rate, or anything else you care to use it for.

    A Description meta tag can indeed affect what appears in the search results, although it doesn't affect the ranking of the page. A Keywords meta tag affects nothing; it is ignored by all the major search engines (although some minor engines might use it).

    The point is to distunguish the particular meta tags we are discussing here from meta tags in general.

    Mike


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