Meta Tags what are they ?

Meta Tags

Web Designing is a complex art. Especially when dealing with the codes it's all made from, directly. The most important codes your site can have, no one but a machine ever sees, your Meta tags.

What the heck is a Meta Tag ? The part of your site a search engine sees first. With it, you can tell the spider what to do, what to index and show a site description that says what you want it to say.

Now the engine can and will crawl the site for all it contains, but this makes it a lot easier. In fact for most engines you cant even submit the site without having one. Now to break down what all this means:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; iso-8859-1">

In other words what is on here.. words.. images...mp3s ? So it knows right off what kind of information will be presented.

<META NAME="title" CONTENT="Art work for Sale...From Pagan and Proud of it !">

The title.. the most important bit you can add,.. for a long time my site was indexed as " index" , in other words as its file name, as I didn't know that I could title it differently, all the tips said it had to be called index.. so I figured ok what ever ya say. Not realizeing it had to have the file name index, I could title the page anything I wanted.

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Pragma" content="no-cache">

This one is a special one that tells the robot NOT to cache the site in the off-line browser cache, as I do artwork and don't want it saved on their hard drive. But for most sites you want it to cache it, which is the default, without this line it would do so automatically. If you want to protect images etc. however, you want this line in there.


This tells it if you want it to follow and index all pages linked off the main page and any other links it finds .. its why its important to have links to everything you have on the main index page. Or at least links to pages full of those links as it will follow and keep indexing until it runs out of direct links. This is where one of the first links it comes to should be to a text based site map.

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Language" CONTENT="en">

" en " In this case just means what language.. English. Which is redundant as it should be in the doc type, which goes before the metas. See my article on html validation for more info.

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Pagan Art work All the faces of the Mother, elements and more. From the Spiritual to the Sublime. Come take a peek and maybe buy a print or two. Blessings Be .. Esta">

My wording for a description, not some line it pulled out of context that the engine sticks up there., it will still do this from time to time but most of the time it will use what I choose. Needless to say you have to give this a great deal of thought and time as you have very little space to " sell " the site.

<META NAME="abstract" CONTENT="Pagan Art work All the faces of the Mother, elements and more. From the Spiritual to the Sublime. Come take a peek and maybe buy a print or two. Blessings Be .. Esta">

The same thing here only more concise, for those engines who have more space limits.This is again a bit redundant, but some older spiders want it.

<META NAME="keywords"
CONTENT="pagan ,art ,Great, Art, mother ,elements, spiritual ,Pagan, prints, proud, web ,header, design, great, designer, site, Mother, gallery ,postcard, poster">

Keywords, of mega importance, what words that relate to your site a person is likely to plug into an engine search box when they are looking for something. You must be sure that the words you use here are ON your site. Also note there must be spaces between your commas in the set up or the engines will see this string of words, as one long multi syllable word.

You will notice some words are in there twice, in lower and upper case, this is deliberate and not spamming the engine. This is because to the spider, art and Art are two different words although there are some who would argue that point.. So your important words should be there in both upper and lower case. Your most important words should be first. Upper and lower case repeats should not be next to each other if possible.

<META NAME="author" CONTENT="Esta Weiss">
<META NAME="publisher" CONTENT="Esta Weiss">
<META NAME="copyright" CONTENT="Esta Weiss">

These tell it who wrote it, published it and holds its copyright, very often the same person, but not always.

<META NAME="rating" CONTENT="General">

Ok now , this one tells it what classification to put it under. General means just that, anyone can look, if its adult material you need to specify that.There are several categories it can be placed under. For general this is not really needed, but there are special classes of content, where this becomes important to use this tag.


This one is the one and only place you should have an unguarded email address. And you can delete this line if you want.

<META NAME="creation_Date" CONTENT="08/03/2003">

Simple one, on what date was the page or the tag created.

<META NAME="expires" CONTENT=" never">

This is for time limited things, that have a given life span, special events etc. If your site does not have a limited life, you leave the space blank or say never , but this line should be there.

<META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="2 days">

How often do you want the spider to come back and re index the site? Default is 2 weeks, as you can see I have set mine much higher as I add content all the time and the site would be badly out of date on the engines if I left it at default.

<META NAME="doc-rights" CONTENT="Copywritten work">
<META NAME="doc-class" CONTENT="Completed">
Self explanatory.

<META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="true">

This is another one of those special tags, that deals solely with Microsoft Network.. as they tend to put in " smart tags" when they index your site thereby changing it.. this prevents that.

<TITLE>Art work for Sale...From Pagan and Proud of it !</TITLE></HEAD>

And this is the title that shows on your page at the header..if done right this is the only part of a meta tag that shows anywhere.

Ok now how do you make this complex thing? I cheat myself, I have a friend who has on his site a meta tag generator, you fill in the blanks and it makes the tag. I could write it myself, but why. There are a million such generators out there, most of them free, just plug the words meta tag generator into any search engine and you will get lots of them. As well as, most WYSIWYG editors, will put them in automaticly and or have forms to fill out to make them for you, page by page. Useing a source code editor, you can adjust them by hand, which is what I generaly do.

Now do you need ALL of these, no, these are just some of the more common options all you really need, is doc type, title, description, character set, keywords, and robot info and you can do without the last. Spiders are not as dependent on the metas as they once where.

Every page by rights should have a Meta tag like this made for itself alone, but the index page that the spider comes to first MUST have it.

I hope this helps explain a bit about this very important, but very misunderstood and complex looking, part of your web site.

Esta Weiss

Return to how to design a website