August 30, 2002
Optimizing Movable Type (part 5) - Meta tags

Just a quick hack for you MT users out there: many search engines display generated excerpts when you search for something. Example: When someone recently searched at Google for "ps2 gun survivor 2", my Resident Evil Survivor 2 review came up as result number 9 looking like this:

andersja's blog: Review: Resident Evil Survivor 2 (Code: Veronica...
... August 20, 2002 Review: Resident Evil Survivor 2 (Code ... I'm still waiting after 2 months!!) Anyway: Don't do ... I finally had it all up and running (PS2, gun ...
http://www.jacobsen.no/anders/blog/archives/2002/08/20/ review_resident_evil_survivor_2_code_veronica.html
Enough information for the user to get an idea what it was about (also because I use real headers and have the header in the <TITLE>-tag as well) but not really giving a clear impression of what I had to say about the topic.

I have modified my Individual Archive template in MT to include the following (new insert in bold):

<title><$MTBlogName$>: <$MTEntryTitle$></title>

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="<$MTEntryExcerpt$>">
<META NAME="author" CONTENT="<$MTEntryAuthor$> (AKA ''<$MTEntryAuthorNickname$>'')">

Ideally, the user on the lookout for information about the game mentioned above, will see this text instead (my hand-coded MT Excerpt -- also used for my RSS feeds and category archives):
andersja's blog: Review: Resident Evil Survivor 2 (Code: Veronica...
so disappointing that it's almost scary that this game ever left the doors of Capcom... I played Die Hard Trilogy on the PSOne in 1998(?) and it was 10 times better! This cannot possibly be state-of-the art exploitation of the PS2's possibilities?
http://www.jacobsen.no/anders/blog/archives/2002/08/20/ review_resident_evil_survivor_2_code_veronica.html
Now I have to look into what happens to Excerpts containing quotes. Ideas? Fixes? For now I think I will write new ones using a double ' instead of "...

(The tips (not the template code) is of course also applicable for other webpages or blogs created using different software... I called my series "Optimizing Movable Type" since this is the tool I use and some of those tips are MT spesific....)

More information on META tags:

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Comments

Useful idea andersja! I have implemented it at by log, and it is working beautifully. I'm surprised this site has very few comments considering all of the content.

Posted by: Eli Sarver on August 31, 2002 01:44 AM

Thanks for the feedback, Eli :) I only moved to MovableType less than 4 weeks ago and before that, all posts were "uncommentable" :)

Thanks for stopping by. Do come back later on ;)

Posted by: andersja on August 31, 2002 03:21 AM

Nice. I'm guessing you can also add meta tags to non-individual-entries to prevent the spider from indexing that page - search engine returns often point to front pages and summary pages that contain material for only a few days, and by the time you get there from the search engine its gone - which frustrates your searcher. Any ideas?

Posted by: Rich on August 31, 2002 12:28 PM

Rich - a good point! The tag you'd be looking at inserting at your for example monthly or category archives would be something like this:

{META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX,FOLLOW,NOCACHE"}

the above line (replace curly brackets with normal brackets) would lead the search engine to follow all the links on your page but not to index the archive page itself. (The cache-tag is Google-spesific at this point I think)

More info:
http://www.robotstxt.org/wc/meta-user.html
http://www.searchengineworld.com/metatag/robots.htm
http://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/head/meta.html
http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Data_Formats/Markup_Languages/HTML/Tutorials/Meta_Tags/

Posted by: andersja on August 31, 2002 01:22 PM

Have gone throught 100+ excerpts to make remove/replace "s and html tags. Every time I saved a posting, a new ping was sent to blo.gs, weblogs.com AND movabletype.org... Someone must start suspecting me of spamming by now...

Also, when updating postings that are in categories for which one LATER has added a "category ping" - they will ping as if it was a new article (my July article on David Gallagher just appeared at the Blog Populi site (which I ping for my "Weblogs"-category)... :-/

Time to sleep now. Will update more tomorrow...

Posted by: andersja on September 1, 2002 05:46 AM

Google ignores the meta description, instead building a description using the text of your page immediately surrounding the search terms. Other search engines will often use your meta description, though, so this is still a good idea.

The only way to influence Google's desctiption is to get your site listed in the Open Directory Project, which powers the Google directory. Then when Google displays any page that has an entry in the directory, it displays the directory description along with its autogenerated description.

Posted by: Adam Kalsey on September 1, 2002 09:56 PM

Thanks for the input & feedback, Adam :-)

More on this topic can also now be found at this site:
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/5098.htm
(Webmasterworld: "How does google select their description?")

I'm pleased to see that http://www.alltheweb.com uses the meta description tag...

Posted by: andersja on September 1, 2002 10:00 PM

FYI regarding whether a Meta Robots NOINDEX setting impacts Google "pagerank": it seems not to == it's a good idea for monthly and category archives:

Reference:
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/2829.htm#item343

Posted by: andersja on September 2, 2002 12:34 AM

For excerpts containing quote marks or HTML, try adding encode_html="1" remove_html="1" to the template tag.

These and other options are described in http://www.movabletype.org/docs/mtmanual_tags.html#global%20tag%20attributes

Posted by: Daniel Biddle on December 1, 2002 09:31 AM

Excellent blog, keep up the good work

Posted by: on December 22, 2003 10:34 AM

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Posted by: Drew on January 22, 2006 02:16 AM
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