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What are Meta Tags?
Jul 01, 2004

If you've read "Key Good Title Tags," then you know a bit about a web page's head element. The meta tags are another feature of the head element, and this article will help you understand what they can do and how to create them so that you can use them efficiently.

In addition, Google reports in its webstats section that a large number of mistakes appear in writing <meta> tags, with a great deal of confusion between elements, attributes, and values and how they should be placed in the tags. And there is wide-spread confusion in Internet articles on <meta> tags. Read on to achieve some clarity in the matter.

So, What Are <meta> Tags?

A <meta> tag is an HTML element that provides meta-data about a page, primarily for the sake of search engines. These tags always are placed in the head element of a page. There are several types of this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best items, called attributes, that you can place in an <meta> tag, and four of them are defined in HTML 4 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in its Index of Attributes (

http-equiv—is used to supply information to web browsers, such as the properties of content-type and content-language.

name—is used to supply metainformation to search engines and often is used for the properties author, description, keywords, and robots.

scheme—is an infrequently used attribute that helps interpret the property's value.

content— is a mandatory attribute in all <meta> tags and must appear second. It gives the value of the property identified in the first attribute.

charset—which already works in HTML 4.01, although it is only documented for HTML 5, is used as a subcategory of http-equiv content-type.

Where Are <meta> Tags  Placed?

Here is an example of how <meta> tags are place. In practice, webmasters place them both before and after the title tag.

<title>World's Best Paper Clips</title>
<meta name;"description" content="World's Best Paper Clips carries the most information and best discussions for paper clip aficionados, including Paper Clip News and Views, Best of Paper Clips/Worst of Paper Clips, and Hot Paper Clip Scoops">

To see more examples, choose web pages that you like or that are similar to yours and use your browser's menu to choose View > Page Source. Look near the top of the file to find the <meta> tag with description.

Putting Together a <meta> Tag

Here are the steps for creating a <meta> tag:

• Start with an opening carat <

• Type the word meta, following it with a single space

• Type the name of the attribute you are going to use, choosing http-equiv or name, and following it with an = sign instead of a space

• Type a double quotation mark and the name of the property and then type the closing double quotation mark, like this:

For http-equiv


For name


• Type a space

• Type content= (this element must always appear second in every <meta> tag)

• Type a double quotation mark and then the actual content of the tag

• Type a closing double quotation mark.

• Do not type an end tag because it is forbidden in HTML <meta> tags. Instead, just close the carat >

Your tag will look more or less like one of these, depending on whether it is a name tag or an http-equivalent tag, and with your properties and values, of course:

<meta http-equiv="content-type" content=""text/html; charset=UTF-8">

<META name="Author" content="George Washington">

See the article More About <meta>" Tags for more information.


Related Web Tools:
More About Meta Tags

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