Meta Tags (Overview) 
Part 2 of Web Site Promotion (Getting Listed)

Copyright Stacy Beatty, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003. All Rights Reserved.
This article may not be reprinted or reproduced,  in whole or in part without express, written permission.


The use of meta tags alone will not guarantee your site a high rank or listing in search engines.  However, meta tags are very useful in controlling how search engines list your page!  

Meta tags should be placed between the <head> and </head> section of your html.  Meta tags should also be used on every page, including all framed pages that load!!  If you don't place them in each individual page, you are missing out!  
For instance; Your website is comprised of 3 individual frames, Example.  Each frame loads a unique page.  Each page that loads (framed or not) should contain meta tags!  When a search engine visits your site, it will likely index each framed page and add the meta tag contents!  (More about frames later).

You should also tailor your keywords, description and title to each page on your website.  When your site is indexed by the search engines, why would you want the same listing to appear for every page on your site?  Unless you're trying to reach a HIGHLY TARGETED audience, you should make the  keywords & descriptions differ from page to page.  The more keywords you use, the more likely you are to get the higher placement in the search!

The following meta tags are the most commonly used on the web today.  They include; "keywords", "description", "pragma", "expires", "refresh", "window target", "robots", "distribution", and "revisit-after".

Here's how to use them:

Probably the most important meta tags you will use on your website are "keywords" and "description", explained below.  


"Keywords" tells the search engine which keywords to use and helps identify the content of your site to the user.

Some important tips: 

  • Choose keywords RELEVANT to the content you are serving!  

  • Don't "SPAM" the keywords section!  (Most engines filter repetitive entries)

  • Be selective in your choice of keywords!  If your pages contain adult content, by all means add those keywords to your meta tags, however, if you think you'll get more hits by stating your site contains adult content (and it doesn't) you can be excluded from some "family safe" search sites!

  • Check your spelling!  If you are thinking you will get more visitors because users misspell keywords, you might.. However the *few* extra hits you get aren't really worth the embarrassment of having users pointing out your typos :)

Example:  <META NAME ="keywords" CONTENT="groovy, cool, awesome, etc"> 


"Description" is, simply stated, the description that follows the "title" in your search engine's listing.  Be sure to include a few of your keywords in your description tag.  Don't be too wordy and Don't USE ALL CAPS or Capitalize Every Word In Your Description!  (Save that for the <title> tag)

Example:  <META NAME="description" CONTENT="A *Visually Pleasing* groovy site offering free Groovycards, JAVA arcade games, tips for webmasters and more! Come see."> 


"Title" (not really a meta tag) is the title of your page and what will appear in the top of the browser window.  This is the underlined and bold content in the search engine and the link the users will click to visit your website.  Make it catchy!  Use your imagination!

Example:  <title>Come See Groovynet!</title>


"Expires" tells the browser the date and time the document will expire.  Dates MUST be in GMT format!

Example:  <META HTTP-EQUIV="expires" CONTENT="Wed, 26 Feb 1997 08:21:57 GMT">



"Pragma" prevents Netscape Navigator from caching the content of the pages.  To use this tag, the content must be = "no cache".

Example:  <META HTTP-EQUIV="Pragma" CONTENT="no-cache">



"Refresh" specifies the time (in seconds) before the web browser automatically refreshes the page.  Very useful if you have changed the location of your documents, you can specify a new page to load on refresh!  You MUST place quotation marks " around the entire content value or the page will not refresh. In the example below, the 0; tells the browser to wait 0 seconds to send the user to the URL  Change the 0 to the amount of time you wish and change to URL to point to the page of your choice.

Example:  <META HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" CONTENT="0;URL=">


Window Target

"Window Target" will open all links on your page in a different window.  Very useful for pages with offsite links.  Your users click the link, visit the site, and your site is still open in the background!

Example:  <META HTTP-EQUIV="Window-target" CONTENT="_top"> 



The default setting for the "Robots" meta tag is "all".  

The "All" variable allows all links on the page to be followed by the search engine spider and allows for possible indexing of each page.  

The variable "none" tells the search engine spider "don't follow any links or index any files".  

The "index" variable tells the search engine that it may index this page, and the "follow" variable tells the search engine to "index and follow all the links on this page".  

The "noindex" variable tells the search engine to follow all the links on this page, but don't index this page itself.  

The "nofollow" variable tells the search engine to index this page but it should not follow the links on this page."

Example:  <META NAME="robots" CONTENT=" index, follow"> 



"Distribution" specifies the level or degree of distribution of your web page.  Global indicates that all content is intended for world wide viewing.  Local, is intended for local distribution of your content and IU indicates your content is for internal use only.

Example:   <META NAME="distribution" CONTENT=" global">


"Revisit-after" defines how often the search engine should revisit your website.  (This is great if you add content daily!)

Example:  <META name="Revisit-After" content="X Days">

These are the basics meta tags.  There are many other being used by webmasters today, (author, copyright, abstract, etc) however, they are optional and may be added at any time. (I may end up writing another page on meta tags!  Watch for it in the near future!)

Careful use of these meta tags should help you increase your traffic and reach the audience you want!  Remember, meta tags are not an all inclusive solution to building traffic, they're part of the process!  


Good luck and God bless!  

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Copyright Stacy Beatty, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
All Rights Reserved.
This article may not be reprinted or reproduced,  in whole or in part without express, written permission.