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Meta Tags? What Are They? 4 October 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Having a web-site built is pretty simple right?

Just find yourself a web designer (lord knows there are enough people laying claim to the title) and tell them what you want.

Hand over a wad of cash, and in the blink of an eye, the click of a mouse, and the clatter of a few keys -- a work of art, positioned in cyberspace for all the world to see.

Or maybe not.

One observant Aardvark reader has pointed out to me that some of those who most need the online exposure are getting very little of it due to the silly omissions of their web designers.

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Take the example of the Auckland local-body elections.

Now we all know that politicians (even local-body ones) need all the exposure they can get if they're to attract votes. We also know that NZ has a pretty high level of Internet use -- so it makes sense for candidates to have a presence on the WWW.

However, the subtle distinction between just having a web-site, and having a web-site that people can find seems to have eluded an incredible number of the Mayoral candidates in Auckland.

Let's scrutinise the leading candidates' sites. Note that I won't comment too much on the creative aspect of these sites since that's a fairly subjective issue.

John Banks
Domain name: JohnBanks.co.nz
Web Designer: Tonic Creative
Search Engine Ranking: No-show
A quick look at the HTML for this site shows that there are NO META TAGS! No wonder it didn't appear when the candidate's name was plugged into local search engines. Was it even registered with them?

And as for the web designer... clicking on the "Tonic Creative" link on John's page brings up this page telling us that "Tonic's own URL "does not exist or is not currently used for a website."

Finally -- check out the email address used on John's page. Given that he has his own domain name (johnbanks.co.nz), one can't help but wonder why he's using an email address (johnbanks@naturebee.com) related to one of his commercial ventures, whose products he's often seen plugging on TV.

Come on John, surely it would be sensible to draw a nice clear line between your own commercial activities and your bid for the Auckland Mayoralty wouldn't it?

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • meta tags... - Dennis
  • John Banks web site... - Kevin (Tonic)
  • Have Your Say

    Christine Fletcher
    Domain name: ChrisFletcher.co.nz
    Web Designer: Crease
    Search Engine Ranking: No-show
    As with John Banks', there are NO META TAGS on this web site -- and it shows when you try to find it using a local search engine. What's worse, because the site uses frames, there's not even any sensible text for indexing from the page itself.

    A check of the designer's own site shows that at least they bothered to use the "Description" meta-tag on their pages -- but it's a typically arrogant site that demands the use of Flash before you're allowed to enter.

    And, just like John, this candidate has their own domain name but doesn't use it for their email address -- duh!

    Matt McCarten
    Domain name: Matt4Mayor.org.nz
    Web Designer: Analog Media
    Search Engine Ranking: No-show
    Sigh... what is it with lazy web designers -- this is the third site without any sign of a meta tag. Now it can't be ignorance on the part of Analog Media, after all, their own site is well loaded with meta tags -- so why couldn't they do a proper job on their client's site??

    I see that Matt uses his Alliance email address rather than the one associated with the domain -- and he uses a .org.nz domain for his presence.

    Fran Van Helmond
    Domain name: eblurb.co.nz
    Web Designer: unknown
    Search Engine Ranking: SearchNow
    This guy gets my vote. He's blunt, his domain name is unrelated to his quest, and the design is far from "slick" -- but of all the candidates' web-sites, this is the only one to use meta tags. What's more, it's the only one that seems to show up on local searches -- and that's important when you're trying to use the Net to deliver a message.

    The designer of this page prefers to remain anonymous -- but in my opinion they've done a better job of addressing the whole job of presenting their client's message to the public than any of the fancy-schmancy designers who produced the other candidates' sites.

    Summary
    If you're wondering how I found all these web-sites, given their atrocious lack of presence in the local search engines, I used this excellent page which is a great resource if you need links to local government information.

    What do you think? Should this year's Auckland Mayoral candidates be annoyed with what their web designers have delivered or are pretty pictures more important than search engine rankings and technical details?

    Of course, as always, the candidates and their web designers are welcome to submit a Right of Reply for publication if they wish to refute or respond to any of the opinions voiced here.

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