Meta tags as a way to get high search engine placement and to control summary in search engine listings.

Meta Tags and high search engine placement

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Though META tags alone won't carry you to a high search engine placement, it's still crucial to create effective title, description, keywords, and other tags.

Meta tags are contained in the HEAD section near the top of the page. They're not displayed to the end user unless you view the source code of the page. They allow webmasters to provide information to a browser, search engine, or automated program (i.e., robot).

They are ignored by default unless the browser or search engine specifically recognizes them. There are several meta tags, but we'll cover the most important...

Title tag

This is the first and most important tag in search engine placement algorithms. Ideally, the Title tag should contain five to ten good, descriptive words and not exceed 70-80 characters. The specific keyword should be used, preferably as the first word of the title. Remember, the title appears as the link in search engine listings, so you need to make it attractive to humans as well.

For example...

<title> Meta Tags and High Search Engine Placement </title>

Meta Description tag

This is the second important tag in search engine placement algorithms. The Description tag is used by many search engines as a short description of the page in search engine listings, so don't repeat the Title in this tag, and make sure it's attractive, without being misleading. It should not exceed 150-200 characters. The specific keyword should be used at least once (try twice if it fits and see how it ranks). Include common synonyms and one or two of your most important general keywords.

For example...

<meta name="description" content="How to use Meta tags to get high search engine placement.">

Meta Keywords tag

The Keywords tag is designed to tell the search engine what keywords are important to your page, and thereby how people should be able to find you when they search. But this meta tag has almost completely lost its relevance as far as search engine positioning is concerned - it hardly affects the rankings these days.

However, just to be on the safe side, you should include the specific keyword and one or two of your most important general keywords in the Keywords tag. You can also include some of the common upper/lower case variations of the keyword. The rules for the Keywords tag are simple - don't repeat any keyword more than three times and don't repeat the same word one after another even if separated by a comma - it can get you penalized for spamming.

Don't create a long list of keywords. Consider including synonyms to your specific keyword and related words that may not be in the document itself, including misspellings. You may grab some extra rankings that way.

For example...

<meta name="keywords" content="meta tags, high search engine placement, meta expires tag, meta refresh tag">

Meta Robots tag

This tag contains instructions to web-indexing robots, as to whether or not to index this page and to follow the links on it. By default, robots both index and follow everything, unless you tell them not to. So, you generally don't require this tag.

However, you may need to prevent the search engines from spidering the pages containing Meta Refresh tags or other risky techniques that are often used for spamming, because the search engines may penalize your site for this.

For example...

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">

will tell the robots that they shouldn't index this page, but they should follow the links that are on it.

For more examples see Controlling Web crawlers.

Meta Revisit tag

The Revisit tag defines how often a search engine or robot should come to your website for re-indexing. This meta tag is supported by many search engines and is often used to control search engine placement of websites that change their content on a regular basis.

For example...

<meta name="revisit-after" content="30 days">

The following Meta tags control your visitors' browsers...

Meta Expires tag

The Expires tag allows you to force the browser to not cache a page, so that it loads a new copy from the server each time the page is viewed. It is primarily useful for pages with dynamic content. Just set the expiry date to 0, and caching will be disabled...

<meta http-equiv="expires" content="0">

To make a page expire at a specific time in the future, spell it out in Greenwich Mean Time...

<meta http-equiv="expires" content="Mon Dec 31 23:59:59 GMT 2007">

Meta Refresh tag

The Refresh meta tag will automatically send users to another URL, after a specified amount of time has elapsed. The syntax for the content part is...
the number of seconds to delay, then a semicolon, then the new destination URL.

For example...

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5;URL=http://www.site.com/">

Note that the search engines don't like Meta Refresh tag and either ignore the current page and index the second page or may not index the site at all.


There are many more Meta tags that can be used for special occasions, but they're fairly rare.

See also...

Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing the entire website for high search engine placement.

Body Copy
Optimizing the the actual text of the page for better search engine placement.

Controlling Web crawlers
How to instruct Web crawlers (search engine spiders) what to do when they visit your site.

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