To Meta Tag or not to Meta TagWritten by Dave Felts
Clients are always asking me about value of met tag decscription and keywords. Usually it's along lines of "My (webmaster, IT team, Content Manager, Site Manage, 12 year-old nephew) told me don't bother with meta tags".
The basic rule here is applicable to more than just SEO: better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. As long as you don't keyword stuff or otherwise spam these tags, you're not going to do yourself any harm, and you might just do some good.
Meta Keywords: no more than 15 terms with most relevant terms first. Don't use terms that don't occur in page. Avoid repetition.
Meta Description: Keep it short, direct, to point, and page specific. No longer then 25 - 30 words. Some engines (Temoa) use meta description as blurb that goes under link. So write an accurate description of page: "All about Joe Schmoe Widgets."
Search Engine Optimization is not MarketingWritten by Dave Felts
One of account reps is dealing with a client who's interested in SEO on their site. Niether rep nor client has a firm grasp on exactly what that involved. This is how I explained it to her:
SEM is search engine marketing. Like any marketing function, it involves paying for delivery an advertising message in an attempt to gain customers to make sales or to promote brand awareness. You take how much you spend, figure out how many sales derived from your effort, bump that up against how much you made, and figure out if that campaign was effective. Marketing is typically conducted to promote a service or product that already exists and is immediately available.
SEO doesn't work like that. The best time to optimize your site is pre-production. Do good SEO as you build your site and you won't have to do anything more except a tweak here and there from then on out. It's a lot easier to do SEO up front than go back and redo it later.
The concern marketers have with SEO (at least concern they've expressed to me) is that it's not easily measured and there's no guarantee. I tell my clients, "Do what I say, and I guarantee you'll rank higher in 6 months than you do now for terms you target." But I can't guarantee number 1 on Google or any other provider. And SEO provider who does is either a liar or has a bag of black-hat tricks up their sleeve that are just as likely to get you banned as ranked.