What are HTML Meta Tags?
Meta tags consist of a set of Meta elements that describe the contents of the web page. Meta tags share valuable information regarding a web page with the browsers and the search engine crawlers. It is of prime importance to a search engine optimizer as it is the best way to educate searchengines about the topic and content of a particular web page. The information contained in the Meta tag is machine parsable i.e. it is not visible to the human visitor while viewing a webpage instead it shares information with the web browsers and bots of search engines. These tags are inserted in the <Head> area of an HTML document.
What Purpose does Meta Tags serve?
Meta Tags gives information regarding the Meta data contained in an HTML document. These consist of various elements and attributes which can be used to explain in detail about the content of a particular web page. Meta Tags are an important factor in the ranking of web pages in search engines. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the webmasters to supply accurate information in the Meta tags regarding an HTML document so that it becomes easier for search engine crawlers to parse the data and collect important information regarding the webpage.
An Example of a Meta Tag
Meta tag is found between <Head> and </Head> areas of an HTML document. A good example of an HTML Meta tag is given below:-
<Meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<Title>Order food Online</title>
<Meta name="description" content="Order pizza, burgers, French fries, Milk shakes etc online. " />
<meta name="keywords" content="pizza, order pizza online, order burger online, order French fries online,
order milk shake online" />
Here, different elements of Meta tag are shown. The two most important ones are description and keywords. These Meta tags shares information about the content on a particular page. Just by looking at the web page you can tell that this web page is of a restaurant which delivers pizza, burgers, French fries and Milk shake online. These elements would be described in detail in the coming sections.
Difference between Meta data and Meta tag
A Meta tag is simply an HTML tag which consists of Meta data. Meta data are data which supplies information regarding a data. Hence, these are data about data. We can say, Meta tag contains Meta data. Frankly speaking, there are hardly any differences between the two and most people use these terms synonymously.
The Title Tag and your page content
Although the Tile tag and the content between the body tag are not included in the meta tag but still these are important concepts to discuss at this point. The title tag comprises of the title of the webpage and is seen by the visitors. The title is displayed on the top of the web browser while viewing a web page. The title tag is the element which is shown by the searchengines on the SERPS(Search Engine Result Pages)*. Hence, the title tag must be related to your web page content. The content of your web page is the most important part of your entire web page. People search the web looking for useful content and if you have the required content in your web page then your chances of ranking high increases. Three things act in order to rank high in the search engines:-
- You should have valuable and unique content in your web page. This should be according to the keywords selected.
- The title tag should match the content of the site.
- The description tag should interestingly describe the content of the site and should not consist merely of keywords.
Detailed description of the types of Meta Tags
The Meta Description Tag
The Meta description tag displays valuable information related to the website on the search engineresult pages. The description which you see under headings while searching for queries is the content embedded under description tag.
Example of Meta Description Tag
An example of description tag is given below:-
<Meta name="description" content="Your description goes here” />
The content area consists of the information related to your web page. This is not just a chunk of information but it should clearly indicate the usefulness of the content in your web page. The content that you can add on description tag is limited to 170 characters (it’s not that you cannot add beyond it but it is usually recommended to keep it below 170 characters). The optimal length should be between 150 and 170 characters.
Guidelines for Meta description tag
- Keep the content of the Meta description tag up to 160 characters.
- Do not use duplicate description tags. Each and every page of your website should have a unique description tag.
- The Meta description tag should ideally describe your page.
- The content on the description tag is displayed on the search results so think carefully before writing the description tag.
The Meta Keyword Tag
The Meta keyword tag shares information related to the terms that are useful in locating that particular information. The search engines use this information for finding relevance of the web page content with respect to the keywords mentioned in the keyword tag. But due to excessive spamming, search engines have devaluated the value of keyword tag while ranking a web page.
Example of Meta keyword Tag
An example of keyword tag is given below:-
<Meta name="keywords" content="your keywords goes here" />
The content area consists of words that are useful in locating your information. A web page containing information about baby toys should have words like “baby gifts”, “baby toys”,” toys for babies”, “gifts for babies” etc in its keyword tag. Similarly a web page containing information about gadgets should have words like “gadgets”, “latest gadgets”, “new gadgets”, “cheap gadgets” etc in their keywords tag. Remember, do not spam this tag but include only those words which reflect your content well.
Guidelines for Meta keyword tag
- Keep the content of the Meta keyword related to the web page’s content.
- Do not use duplicate keyword tags. Each and every page of your website should have a unique keyword tag.
- An ideal keyword tag should consist of 4-6 keywords.
- Try to add words that are searchable and use short term phrases instead of long term phrases.
The Meta Author Tag
The Meta Author tag defines the author of the content. This tag recently became popular because of its consideration by Google in the SERPS. Now Google uses the content mentioned in the author tag to display the Google plus profile of the person who created the web page in its search results.
Example of Meta Author Tag
<Meta name="author" content="Your Name"><Meta name="reply-to" content="Your email id">
<Meta name="owner" content="Your email id"><Meta name="copyright" content="copyright Your name">
The Meta Robots Tag
The Meta Robots Tag is a special tag made for the search engine robots. It tells the robots (special software to crawl the web) whether or not to index a particular web page. The robots tag serves a special purpose of converting all the links present in a webpage to No follow (restricts the link juice from passing onto other links present on the page).
Example of Meta Robots Tag
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">
Tells the search engine robots not to index the particular web page and converts all the
active links present on the web page into No follow.
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, FOLLOW">
Tells the search engine robots not to index the particular web page .Also, the link juice
passing abilities of the links present on the webpage remains active.
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="INDEX, NOFOLLOW">
Tells the search engine robots to index the particular web page and converts all the active
links present on the web page into No follow.
Please note: - The default values are index, follow.
Example Usage of a Meta Tag- How to use a Meta Tag
A simple example of Meta tag is given below:-
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<title>Your title goes here</title>
<meta name="description" content="Your description goes here. " />
<meta name="keywords" content="Your keywords goes here" />
<meta name="zipcode" content="Zipcode for business" >
<meta name="robots" content="noodp" >
Meta name revisit-after
This attribute guides the search engine robots to visit the web page after a period of days mentioned in the content area of the tag.
<Meta name="revisit-after" content="7 days">
With this tag, the robots are indicated to visit the site after a gap of seven days.
Meta name contact
This attribute is used to add an email address.
<Meta name="contact" content="email@example.com" />
Meta name copyright
This attribute defines copyright information of the document.
<Meta name="copyright" content="name of owner">
Meta name distribution
This attribute is used to declare the distribution of your web content.
Distribution can be global, local or for internal use.
<META NAME="Distribution" CONTENT="Global">
Meta name expires
This attribute declares the expiration time of the current document. This tag is useful for WebPages which are created for a specified period of time based upon any event or happening.
<Meta name="expires" content="date">
Meta name language
This attribute defines the language of the document.
<Meta name="language" content="language">
Meta name reply-to
This attribute helps people to find out the email address of the concerned
person who needs to be contacted regarding any reference to the document.
<Meta name="reply-to" content="email address">
Meta equiv refresh
This attribute defines the time frame of how long should the browser wait
before refreshing the webpage.
<Meta http-equiv="refresh" content="value">
Meta equiv resource type
This attribute defines the type of the web page.
<Meta http-equiv="Resource-Type" content="value">
Meta equiv script-type
This attribute defines the type of scripting language defined in the document.
<meta http-equiv="Content-Script-Type" content="value">
Meta equiv style-type
This attribute defines the style sheet to be used in the document.
<Meta http-equiv="Content-Style-Type" content="value">