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Myriam Telles, head writer at Global Communicator, recently interviewed Jason Chuan, President of Pasadena-based Meta Taggers to obtain the following advice about using meta tags and keywords to promote and increase traffic to your foreign-language web site.

Chuan explained that a meta tag is a word or group of words included in the web site's hidden HTML coding at the top of the page and can include titles, a description of the web site, or a set of keywords that reflect the site's content. Meta tags are used by search engine spiders and help to bring visitors to the site.

It is very important to translate the meta tags and keywords when translating the content of a web site and submitting it to foreign search engines. If they are left in English, foreign search engine spiders may not "see" your web site.

For example, some of the meta tags in the HTML source code on the Dell Computers web site include:

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="Dell Computer Corporation, Custom, Configuration, PCs, Laptops, Portables, Computer, Notebook, Hardware, Build, Value, Technology, Servers, Dell, Online, Order" >

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Dell offers custom configuration of personal computers, portables and servers. Build your own PC--get the best value with latest technology--order online." >

Here is how these meta tags would look in French:

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="Dell Computer Corporation, 
Personnalisé, Configuration, PC, Portatif, Portable, Ordinateur, 
Bloc-notes, Matériel, Version, Qualité, Technologie, Serveur, Dell,
En ligne, Commande" > 

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Dell offre une configuration 
personnalisée pour les ordinateurs personnels, les portables et les
serveurs. Construisez votre propre PC et obtenez une qualité optimale
grâce à une technologie de pointe. Commandez en ligne." >

Use professional translators, rather than translation programs, to
assure accurate translation of your web site's content, graphics,
and its meta tags and keywords.

Keywords and meta tags that will help to rank your web site higher in
foreign search engines can be identified by:

-- Visiting foreign search engines and identifying your competitors'
web sites that are highly ranked, then
-- Going to those competitors' foreign web sites and looking at their
HTML coding to identify meta tags and keywords that may also be 
appropriate for you to use on your web site (keywords and meta
tags may have to be changed to coincide with those that are
popular with foreign search engines)
-- Noticing where competitors' web sites place keywords within the
text of the web site; you might want to use a similar strategy

For example, if a popular keyword used by visitors to a Spanish 
search engine is "computadora", then you can be sure that the most
highly-ranked web sites in the computer industry will have the word
"computadora" well integrated into their meta tags and text.

Remember that keyword placement is important in both English and
non-English web sites. Some good areas to place keywords on your
web site are:

-- In the title of web pages, towards the top
-- In the first paragraph
-- Sprinkled throughout the text (but no too often)
-- In subheadings
-- Within the meta tags in the HTML code

Avoid being identified as a "spammer" and possibly being dropped by
search engines by staying away from these keyword no-nos:

-- Repeating words for no apparent reason
-- Writing confusing passages just to include more keywords
-- Hiding keywords by using text of the same color as the background
-- Using keywords that have nothing to do with your web site's 

Consultants specializing in search engine registration and 
positioning can be very helpful. They can give you each major search
engine's list of rules regarding spamming and can also explain why
your web site's ranking is low or has dropped.