What Are Meta Tags?

Simply put, a Meta tag is a text box that appears on the top of a Web page typically with a title, description, and keywords. Meta elements are also called meta-tags or meta-elements. Meta-elements are used in XHTML and HTML documents alike to give structured metadata about a Web site. Read on to find more tips from our guru Steve Clayton.

For some Web designers, a Meta tag can be as important as the content-type or page name. The concept is simple enough. The content type is the entire Web site, while the page name identifies each web page. When a search engine sees the phrase “binge search” it will turn up Web pages that have the words “binge” or “browsing” in their titles, rather than the site’s name. The title of every page is therefore an important part of the Meta tag’s description.

Meta tags provide information about the actual page such as the title tag, which tells what kind of page it is, the description tag, which describes the contents of the page, and finally the keywords attribute. All of these Meta tags must be contained in a resource box that appears at the end of every page on the website. The Meta keywords attribute gives a description of the keywords that appear in the Web site’s headers and footers. Meta keywords can be used together with title tags for more precise control.

Meta tags are very important in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In SEO, a website is judged by how many times a visitor clicks through to the next link on the Web site from the current page being judged. A high click-through rate (CTR) means that the web site is popular and receives a lot of traffic. A low CTR means that the site does not receive many clicks. A high CTR means that the visitor is directed to another site on the Web site. Google and other major search engines judge a website by its CTR and the higher the better.

Meta tags are also important in the content management system (CMS) of websites. A CMS is a system that controls what appears on a Web site. For example, a blog contains a sidebar where readers can post comments and insert images. The sidebar contains descriptions of each comment and image, and the description of the image appears beneath the post. The keywords and meta titles are shown under the posts.

Many website owners do not realize that there are actually two different types of Meta Tags. They are very easy to create and, in fact, the software that produces the HTML Meta-tag is called “META”. If you want to add meta tags to your website, then use a software program that produces the HTML Meta tag. There are free programs, but some programs cost money. One of the largest Meta tag search engines, Yahoo!, gives you a free tool to find and select the best META tags. The tools provide data about popular tags such as “headings”, “image”, “keywords”, “date”, and “created”.

A Meta tag is important because it lets the search engine know what keywords are associated with your site. In layman’s terms, a Meta-tag is an HTML or XHTML code that allows search engines to determine the relevance of your site to the keyword entered. The Google page rank (PR) for a site is determined by a combination of several factors including the amount of relevant links that direct visitors to the site and the existence of relevant anchor text within the site. Another way to look at it is that a tag helps establish a hierarchy of keywords, which is another way of saying that the Meta tag helps establish a good SEO structure for your Web site.

As you can see, using Meta tags is an important part of search engine optimization. However, there is yet another way that you can benefit from using them: using them in the HTML source code. By writing your Meta tags and referencing the page number or URL in your header tags, you give search engines another way to navigate through your site and identify what content type you are providing. With this extra help, your Web site will be easier to find and read!