Analyzing Your Competitors Metatags Quickly

If you’ve ever wanted to do a little competitive analysis, you’ve probably had the misfortune of having to view the page source of many pages on a particular website. Searching meta tags isn’t the best way to find the right terms to target for your own website, but it’s a good indicator of what other people are targeting and it’s a perfect start for your keyword research.

You’ve probably done this before, and realized how tedious and boring checking pages of one site can be, so after searching the web for something more automated and not finding anything, a coworker mentioned a program called GSiteCrawler. It’s works fairly well actually.

Note: If you are using Microsoft Vista, you have to right click the program file and choose “run as administrator” or the program won’t work properly.

Here’s how to set it up:

a.) Set up a new project by clicking the “Add” button on the bottom left corner of the screen. Use the New Site Wizard and hit Next on the next screen.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

b.) Enter your website URL and give your project a name and click Next.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

c.) On this screen, you can leave everything as is, or you can choose the check box next to “URLs are case-sensitive” if you’re on a Linux server. Change anything else if you wish, but I left the rest the same. Click Next.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

d,) This program was created to be sitemap generator so the next step offers to upload the sitemap file to your website via FTP. Just skip this and click next.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

e.) You can read through all of the options on the next page, but I just checked them all. Click the finish button and the program will begin to scan your website.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

There are lot of cool things this program can show you, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we’re only going to look at the Titles and the Meta tags of the website.

Once the scanning is complete, you can navigate to the “URL list” tab on the main screen and then click the “Refresh List” button to show all of the URLs that the program found.
GsiteCrawler Screenshot

You can click on any of the URLs and it’ll show you the URL, Page Title, Description, and Keywords for that page. The one downfall is if the Title, Description, or Keywords fields are too long, it’ll just cut it off, so you won’t be able to see the whole thing on some sites, but it’s still a good tool for some quick analysis.

What Are Meta Tags?

If you look at the source code of a page on someone’s website, you’ll likely see the title tag <title></title> and <meta> directly below that. Of course the title is extremely important, but just how important are the meta tags? Most meta tags are useless actually. The only two that I actually use are the “keywords” and “description” tags. Many people believe other meta tags are important but testing has proven that they don’t do anything to help your website. Here is the basic template that I use:

<head>
<title>Enter Page Title Here</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”This shows up in the search engine listings. Catch the searchers attention.” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”Keyword, Keywords, etc.” />
</head>

Even the keywords tag isn’t very important, but it doesn’t hurt. What you really want to do with the “keywords” tag is place just a few keywords in there. They should be related to what is actually on that page also. Don’t stuff the “keywords” tag with a whole slew of keywords or you just may set off a red light to the search engines and get your site penalized or even worse, banned.

The reason that the “Description” tag is important is because what you place here is what will usually show up as the description of your listing in the search results. If you do a web search for “video games,” you will get 10 results back. You get whatever the title <title> of the page is and the description <meta name=”description> of the page. This is your chance to suck in those customers. Use something catchy or interesting. Make sure that those searchers know that you have what they are looking for. It would probably not be wise to use salesy talk or something like “Free! Free! Free!.” Searchers will just suspect that your site is most likely spam and skip right over it and end up going to your competitor.

Experiment with your tags and find out the best copy that results in click-throughs. The <title> tag is not a part of the meta tags but most people include it, so one last thing you should know is that, in my opinion, changing the <title> tags are NOT usually a good idea, so try to get that one right the first time. There you have it. Now you know what meta tags are.