All about SEO Meta Tags

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meta tags offer the website owner the ability to control some degree on how their web pages are described by some search engines. Meta tags have never been a guaranteed way to gain a top ranking on crawler-based search engines. They also offer the ability to prevent pages from being indexed at all.

There are many more Meta tags than just ‘Meta Description’ and ‘Meta Keywords’. At one point Meta tags were considered a relatively important factor by search engines. AltaVista and other older search engines used them to help determine a site’s theme as well as relevance to a given term. This is no longer the case, search engines now rely on much more advanced techniques to do this.

All about SEO Meta Tags

META Description Tag

Enter a brief description of your site and what it offers. This is sometimes used by search engines as a website’s “snippet” for search results.

<meta name="description" content=" Meta Description Tag should not be longer 
than 400 characters in length and should not be shorter than 125 characters 
in length" />

META Keywords Tag

Enter a short list of keywords and terms related to your site. The terms can be separated by a comma, but a delimiter is not required.

<meta name="keywords" content="keywords, metatags, do, not, matter" />

META Robots Tag

Robots meta tag is designed to allow you to tell a search engine when you do not want it to index your page, and/or when you do not want the search engine to look at or evaluate any of the links on your page.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow" />


The ‘noodp’ and ‘noydir’ tags notify Search Engines that you do not want them to replace your existing Title and Meta Description Tags in SERP results with equivalent data found in your current DMOZ or Yahoo! Directory listings.

<meta name="robots" content="noodp, noydir" />

META Title Tag

The Meta Title tag is used to declare the title of the page. The Meta Title tag would normally have the same title as contained in the <TITLE></TITLE> tag.

<meta name="Title" content="Page Title Here" />

META Content Type Tag

This tag is necessary to declare your character set for the page and should be present on every page. Leaving this out could impact how your page renders in the browser. A few options are listed below, but your web designer should know what is best for your site.

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1" />

META Refresh Tag

This is the poor way to redirect and should be avoided if possible. You should always use a server side redirect 301/302. Google is NOT a fan of META Refresh.

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1;url=" />

META Author Tag

The Meta Author tag reference the name of the person who developed the document. The use of the Meta Author tag is optional, it is recommended to use it with the author's first and last name. The Meta Author tag is not indexed by Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.

<meta name="author" content="Joydeep Deb" />

META Language Tag

The language attribute specifies the natural language. This document is mostly concerned with how to specify the primary language(s) (there could be more than one) and the base language (there is only one) in HTML documents.

<meta name="language" content="english" />
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en" />

META Copyright Tag

The Meta Copyright tag is used to include a copyright, trademark, patent, or other information that pertains to intellectual property. It is not required to use a Meta Copyright tag. Just look at the footer of your website, it would says "Copyright 20xx" in some form.

<meta name="copyright" content=" Copyright XYZ Corporation 2011" />

META Distribution Tag

The Meta Distribution tag is used to declare the distribution of your web content. The three classifications of distribution are 1. Global (the entire web), 2. Local (reserved for the local IP block of your site), 3. IU (Internal Use, not for public distribution). If you want to have restricted distribution, use the robots.txt tag or your HTAccess file.

<meta name="Distribution" content="Global" />

META Expires Tag

The Meta Expires tag is used to declare the date and time after which the web document should be considered expired.

<meta http-equiv="expires" content="Mon, 29 Aug 2011 10:15:25 GMT" />

META Generator Tag

This is used to note what program created the page. Meta Generator tags serve no useful purpose for your pages. If you have Meta Generator tags, delete them if possible.

<meta name="Generator" content=" Macromedia Dreamweaver" />

META Revisit After Tag

This Meta tag is a command to the robots to return to a page after a specific period of time. It's not followed by any major search engine. Search engines will not obey the Meta Revisit After tag and come back to index your site on their own schedule, not when you inform them.

<meta name="Revisit-After" content="30 days Days" />

I will advice, keep it simple and don't add Meta tags you don't need as they just take up code space. The less code you have the better. Unless you are absolutely confident of individual tags, don't add them. The SEO wars are won primarily with content and links.


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About the Author
Joydeep Deb

is a Digital Marketing Specialist with 12+ years of experience in Digital Marketing, Lead Generation, Online Brand Management, Web Marketing Campaigns, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), PPC, eMail Marketing, Web Analytics, Web Technologies, Web Design and Development.

With an MBA in Marketing. Lives in Bangalore, Karnataka - India and working as an Program Manager SEO.

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