Search Engine Criteria

Discussion of plan and activities involved in creating new look and feel for UNL website. Archived Jan. 17, 2007.

Search Engine Criteria

Postby dsockrider » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:09 am

In order to provide more targeted search results to certain departments and faculty I would very much appreciate the ability to customize Meta tags within the templates for every page.

Right now the Meta description and keywords for the College of Engineering are:

<meta name="description" content="The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, founded in 1869, is one if the nation's premier land-grant institutions. UNL is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral/Research University-Extensive." />

<meta name="keywords" content="university of nebraska-lincoln cornhuskers scarlet and cream there is no place like nebraska" />

<meta name="author" content="Web Development Group, UNL Office of University Communications" />



The current keywords don't help with finding information about anything within the College of Engineering or any other individual department. Is it possible to get rid of the 'keywords'
"university of nebraska-lincoln cornhuskers scarlet and cream there is no place like nebraska"
I believe these are not properly formated keywords anyways, there are no commas in between the words. This is more of a description.

Also, if we customize the title of each page so that it describes the content of the page I believe we might get more relevant, accurate and focused search engine results.

Can we determine search engine criteria priority within google? I used to use Atomz search on a couple sites and you could tell the search engine to use the page title as the #1 search criteria, then meta tags as #2 search criteria...body content #3....etc. This allowed for more focused search results.
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Postby rcrisler1 » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:19 pm

We dropped most META tags from the templates earlier this year after a fairly lengthy discussion in WDN. We kept "AUTHOR" as "University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Web Developer Network".

You can add whatever META tags you'd like in the editable area of the head. The problem is, it won't do a thing for most major search engine results. The fact is, Google's PageRank (and other advanced ranking formulas) don't care about META. The general thrust of search engine development has been to take any direct ranking control out of the hands of developers.

It appears that your site's templatedependents files may not be synchronized. We'll need to fix that.


ps. When these things mattered, commas in the keywords tag didn't actually do anything. They were just there, taking up bytes.
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Search Criteria

Postby dsockrider » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:36 pm

In my experience it's just better to cover all your bases in possible criteria indexed by search engines. I think it's better to include Meta tags, rather than exclude them.

Can we prioritize search criteria in the google search, or is that left to the google people/robots. It'd just be nice to have very focused results based on say...page title.
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Postby saltybeagle » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:25 pm

In my opinion..... the usefulness of the keyword and description meta tags pre-dates the indexing technology employed by search engines of today.

The meta tags were useful to direct search engines to content before the search engines were smart enough to index, and apply meaning to, the content of the page.

The day a search engine once again uses meta keywords and description as relevent data to query search strings against will be the day I put {BUZZWORD OF THE WEEK} inside the keywords meta tag of my pages.
........ and THAT'S why, imho, meta tags will never be useful again.

I think you're working towards something very important... search results could be a lot better. A relevant <title> tag, and properly written content, are probably the most important items when creating web pages that work well.

It would be great if we had people that write well and could organize the content.... unfortunately that is probably not me... I'm just a code monkey.
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Meta Description

Postby dsockrider » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:28 pm

If I google my name...'sockrider' I get:

sockrider design | lincoln, nebraska (My Page Title)
Sockrider Design is an Interactive Illustration and design Studio located in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. (My Meta description)

If I google...'University of Nebraska Lincoln' I get:
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, founded in 1869, is one if the nation's premier land-grant institutions. UNL is a member of the Association of American ...

UNL meta description is: <meta name="description" content="The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, founded in 1869, is one if the nation's premier land-grant institutions. UNL is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral/Research University-Extensive." />
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Postby saltybeagle » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:40 pm

While yes it IS returned in the snippet for the page... the description is not queried against to return results. Which is what I was referring to.

Which is why googling UNL for "classified by the Carnegie Foundation" (which is in the meta description tag):
http://www.google.com/u/UNL1?num=30&hl= ... tnG=Search

Returns no results (as of April 6th 2006... before google indexes this page on the Bulletin Board).
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Postby saltybeagle » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:59 pm

The meta description being returned in the snippet of the search result was discussed in a previous WDN meeting, more info about what led to that discussion, and why it is no longer distributed in the template: http://ucommdev.unl.edu/webdev/communit ... .php?t=153

If your pages still return that meta description tag your templatedependents aren't being synchronized properly, and/or google hasn't re-indexed your pages.
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Meta Tags

Postby dsockrider » Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:03 pm

ummm, I just checked the UNL splash page and the UNL news page and checked the source.

This is still there:

<meta name="description" content="The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, founded in 1869, is one if the nation's premier land-grant institutions. UNL is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral/Research University-Extensive." />
<meta name="keywords" content="university of nebraska-lincoln cornhuskers scarlet and cream there is no place like nebraska the power of red" />

How do I synchronize the templates to the correct template?

What are search engines going to use as a description if we don't have a Meta description? If it uses the first text on a page for a description, when splash pages are indexed, the navigation will appear as the description???

The article you referred to for justification to get rid of meta keywords was written in October, 2002.
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Different search engines

Postby dsockrider » Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:40 pm

I did a search for "cornhuskers scarlet and cream there is no place like nebraska the power of red" ...a partial segment of our keywords. I removed the words, "University of Nebraska" in the search.

Google didn't return very good results based on these Meta Keywords.
Yahoo, returned the main UNL site as the first result and showed the Meta Description
Ask Jeeves...now Ask.com returned www.unl.edu/unlpub/search/default.shtml as the first non paid for link.
Alta Vista brings up unl.edu as the first page result
DMOZ shows no results for those keywords.


It appears you're correct in saying that Google doesn't use Meta keywords anymore. They do still use page descriptions apparently.

Yahoo and Alta Vista apparently still use Meta keywords and Meta descriptions.

Ask.com seems to deem keywords somewhat relevant.
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