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Meta Tags

Placed in the head section of your web page, META tags let you put some identifying information into the source code of your web page. The closer that this identifying information is to a search engine's query.

At the end of this chapter you'll find a generator page that will create the head section of a page for you. A tutorial on listing your site with the search engines can be found within the Guild site as well.

Below you'll find an explanation of the different tags and what they can do for you.

<META NAME="TITLE" CONTENT="The Head Section">
This tag holds the same information that you'll find in the title element. It'll be used in search results as the heading for your entry.

While all meta tags are optional, you should really consider this one as a mandatory part of your page. This tag lets you include a summary for your web page. Search engines paying attention to meta tags will use this value as the summary for a search results. Not all engines use this information, but enough of them do though that you should include the meta description in every web page that you want indexed.

There is a limit on the size of the description that you can include. While different engines may impose different limits, a good rule of thumb is to limit the description to 200 characters.

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="head tag html meta">
The meta tag keywords is another tag that you should include in all of your pages. This tag gives the search engines suggestions of what words might result in your page springing up in a query. As with the description tag, some engines will use this tag while others will ignore it.

There are a couple of guidelines for the meta keywords:

First, don't repeat any single word more than three times. Many engines will consider this spamming, and they will delete your site from their databases.

Second, some engines will also consider it spamming if you let your keywords exceed 1,000 characters.

Third, separate your words with a space, not a comma.

Fourth, if you have the room, consider some common misspellings of your major keywords. You'll be surprised how some common mis-spelled words will increase your hit count.

Fifth, What people enter into search engines can be way off the mark but still result in a hit if you're prepared for them. Where can I find greyhounds? is a perfect example. The person wants to find greyhounds. Bus or Boat? It doesn't matter because they will get hits on both. But they are also going to get hits on Where, can, I, and find. you don't want to cram you keywords meta with these words but you may want to keep this peculiarity of search engines in mind when you create your head section.

Finally, Make sure that you have repeated all of your keywords three times. Repetition more than three time is spamming, but your page will answer to more queries if you repeat your keywords up to that limit.

This tag establishes an email address where others can contact you. Normally you would have that information in the footer of your page, but it is still a good idea to include it here.

Here you can tell the world that you made the page.

This tag tells the search engines when the page should be deleted from their indexes. If you had a page for a club meeting, or a store sale, you might want to put this tag in and set it to the day after the event. If you don't want the page to be deleted from the engines' databases, just leave this tag out.

There are several available character sets that can be used in a web page. The standard is ISO-8859-1.

Just as it looks, you can set the language that the web page is in. It won't matter to most visitors, but it is still frustrating to load a page that you don't understand. Include this tag when you can.

Tells the engines what kind of file it is that they're indexing. Document is going to be the correct choice 99% of the time.

Let's the world know that your web page is suitable for all audiences. There's other ratings for sites that have different orientations.

<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="index,follow">
The meta robots tells the search engine spiders what is should do in regard to the page. Two entries are needed. The first tells the spiders to index a page or not. The second tells the spiders to follow the links in the page or not. nofollow and noindex are the other two options.

This tag tells the spiders that it should revisit the page after x amount of time. Generally the time period is 4 weeks. But it can also be 4 months.

<META NAME="GENERATOR" content="Guild Generator">
If you've used a page editor to make your web page, the program will often insert this tag into the head section. If you've written your page by hand you can put anything you like here. Personally I just consider it as a space killer and leave it out.

One more thing that you might find in the head section of your page. <LINK>: Click it to read more.

The Web Guild

2001 Thomas Rumley