SEO

Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO

Mike from MarketingBreakthroughs.com sent in today’s SEO Tip, which has to do with organizing and planning the meta tags, keywords and page titles for an entire site.

Sometimes the taxonomy of an entire site can be overwhelming, and taking a proactive approach to site planning via putting together an excel spreadsheet page matrix can not only make things easier, but also address duplicate content issues which many websites experience in their meta data.

Differentiation in meta descriptions, file names and page title (along with on-site copy) is one of the keys to a Google friendly site, and here are some tips to get off to a good start using an excel spreadsheet to organize your work.

    It’s useful to create a Microsoft Excel document to keep track of your page titles, file names, meta keywords, and meta descriptions, because different pages will have to be optimized for different words.

    (Note that you shouldn’t do this for blog posts or news items, but rather the permanent pages on your website.)

    By using Excel, you can also have a column with the LEN() function, which will give you the character counts of the cell of your choice.

    [This is very important since only 70 characters are shown for a title tag in Google results and for description meta content, usually up to 154 characters are served.]

    You can also change the width of the cell, which will give you a general idea of how much space you have left.

    I usually set it up with the following columns like so:

    • Page friendly name (use your site tree!)
    • File Name (or URL)
    • Page Title
    • Meta Description
    • Meta Keywords

    The columns for page title, meta description, and meta keywords each have a small column after them to show me how many characters are in each column.

    I start out by just inputting the entire site into the Page Friendly Name column, and after that I fill out the rest of the chart. Obviously there will be a lot of overlap, but this method makes it easy to make whatever page-specific SEO changes you need to.

page matrix demo Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO

Note, I would also suggest expanding this method to add a column for H1, H2 and other information which you will use on each page. This will assist you with creating an outline for copywriters (or yourself) to follow when putting together individual page content. Also, if you have an intern or temp employee doing this for you, be sure to save and reset their excel passwords for when they leave.

[Note, this post was originally intended for DailySEOTip, but I thought it good enough to share on Search Engine Journal]

How do you organize your SEO page planning? Please feel free to leave a comment below :)

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO

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27 thoughts on “Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO

  1. I’m not currently using Excel for that, just a simple structure like URL, Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords and, sure, H1 (don’t ever ever ever miss this one).

  2. I actually think this is a really smart way of planning a site that will be extensively SEOed. It allows you to stay focused on your goals during site build out and could serve to save a ton of time in SEO if the designer had a great layout like this — especially with H1-3 text predefined!

  3. Frank

    I tend to leave the H1 tags until I get into the nitty gritty of the actual copywriting for individual pages – and I use the Excel sheet as a guide to tell me which ones I’m going to target.

    But I totally agree that having the H1 tags planned beforehand could be useful.

  4. Nice, I got one step to add with you – use the excel spreadsheet to actually build and manage your site with a true SEO CMS… I’ll write about that one soon enough!

  5. Go0gle recommends having unique meta tag descriptions on most pages and so Excel is a good way to keep track of that text. However my eye sight is not so good and the text becomes too tiny for me. I have seen many people manage their SEO tags in Excel – especially for very large projects.

  6. Very nice idea, I’ve been using Word for something along the lines of what you’re doing.

    But your using the LEN() function is much more efficient method to track counts, as opposed to constantly checking the “Word Count” function in word. Your method always has the totals viewable in your Excel page. Very nice tip. Thanks

  7. I like the use of Excel you have described here. the LEN( function is definately key.. One thing I did to stack ontop of this is using conditional formatting to visualize keyword character count. Simple Red/Yellow/Green for good length and warning zones. Keeps you in a quick reference just out of the peripheral.

    This really has helped with organization!

    Cheers!

  8. Interesting. I have always used Excel and always used the len() function in the way you describe (although I thought Google indexed only 64 characters in title and not 70). I reduce the number of columns and simplify the sheet by using one column for the contents of all my tags and select which one by using the Excel data>filter>auto filter to select. This means you can exclude from view all tags/data you are not working on at that moment. I also use a separate Excel spreadshhet before starting to modify title tags etc to organise keywords and group them into keyword cluster targets for each page and have coluimns for monthly search frequency and traffic estimates etc.

  9. A cool Excel trick to help you get started with columns A & B of this worksheet: Say that you have an existing set of bullet points somewhere on your site (site map?). Each bullet has a link to another page. Copy that section from your browser and paste to column A in Excel.

    You now have a list of the link text in column A. If you need to extract the actual URL to column B, follow the short steps in http://www.mrexcel.com/podcast/2008/01/episode-664-extracting-links.html. Getting those URL’s automatically entered in column B can be a huge timesaver, particularly if you have 100′s of pages.

  10. Using something such as Excel to organize yourself is paramount in taking on a large-scale SEO campaign.

    If you try to work on each page as an independent entitiy, you will find that it will A)Take way too much time, and B) Make it likely that you will get unorganized easily.

    Using Excel is an excellent way to understand a site’s taxonomy and a great jumping off point for organizing your SEO for a large site.

  11. Great post and comments, especially re use of the len() function and the Format > Conditional Formatting tool.

    One question: The Meta Keywords tag? Really? People still spend any time at all putting data in there? I thought SEO consensus was it’s a complete waste of time.

  12. Great post, and thank you for sharing it. I am thinking of doing this to my website. I am wondering if there is any tool out there, which can extract all the pertinent information from the existing site to excel?

  13. Great post – I talked about using this technique to optimize small business websites at SES Chicago in December.

    I also recommend adding a column for “Last Edited” so you can keep track of when you made changes. I’ve seen tags get overwritten every two weeks on a larger site because the SEO couldnt remember when they’d last touched that particular page.

    Great article~
    ~Carrie

  14. I like the idea of using the Len() function for monitoring text length. Simple and effective, Nice!

    Winooski

    I think meta keywords should still be used because at the very least they can serve as a quick reference for what keywords are being targeted and their importance.

  15. Anyone have a free META TAG template in excel?
    I am searching for a free meta tag template that has the feilds automatically limited, etc for SEO Best guidelines. And shows me # of characters as I type?
    Taylor
    SKYPE: SMARTCHOICEWEB

  16. I am getting ready to do a complete overhaul to my site.
    Did a sitemap generator that created a text file of all my urls and titles. I used that to put in a spreadsheet to reorder them alphabetically like they are in Dreamweaver.
    But the len() function is brilliant!!! I started to put them in word to do the count but this will be way faster!

    Now I wish that there was a way to call the data for meta tags on the individual pages from ONE source rather then having to go into 50+ pages.