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 Tips & Tricks

What are Meta Tags?

Meta Tags sit between the Head Tags in your html pages. Although they are not seen by users of the site, they provide information to the users browser. Meta Tags are probably most widely known for their part in search engine promotion, 'spiders' or 'robots' as they are often called, visit web pages and use the Meta Data contained within them to gain information and add them to search engines.

There are two different types of Meta Tags:

System Variables - http-equiv tags provide information to a browser such as a how often the page should be refreshed and when a document should expire.
User Variables - These tags are used to provide information about the page, such as the author, description or keywords associated with the content.

System Variables
System Variable tags are formed as follows:

<meta http-equiv="meta tag name" content="meta tag value">

Caching
Meta Tags can control the way browsers cache pages. For example, if you update a page you may want your visitors to see only current versions of the page.

To set an expiry date:

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

To instruct browsers not to cache a page:

<meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache">

Refreshing

To instruct a web browser to refresh a page at set time increments use the Meta Tag below. This is useful if your pages contain constantly updated content, such as news or weather:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="number of seconds">

To instruct a web browser to re-direct to a different page, insert the code below, this is useful if your web site has moved to a new address:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="seconds until refreshed; url=http://www.yournewpage.com/">

User Variables
User Variable Meta Tags are formed as follows:

<meta name="meta tag name" content="meta tag value">

Rating Your Pages
If you wish to rate your page's audience appropriateness, use one of the following 'rating' Meta Tags:

<meta name="rating" content="mature">
<meta name="rating" content="restricted">
<meta name="rating" content="14 years">
<meta name="rating" content="general">

Search Engines
Several search engines use Meta Tags to compile listings, along with the page Title Tag. Examples of this type of search engine are Altavista, Google and Exite. Directories like Yahoo and Snap do not use these methods. The Meta Tags most often used are:

Keywords - Keywords relating to the page or site
Description - A description of the page or site

These tags look like the following:

<meta name="keywords" content="my site, my things, this, that, this too">

<meta name="description" content="A web site about all this stuff">

The Robots Meta Tag is another very useful tag, it instructs search engine robots how to index a site.

If you don't want a page indexed:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

If you don't want the links from a page indexed:
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">

These two tags can be joined together to form:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

Which can simply be replaced by:
<meta name="robots" content="none">

If you do wish a robot to spider a page:
<meta name="robots" content="index">

Other Tags
Other popular tags include:

<meta name="generator" content="HTML generator name">
<meta name="copyright" content="copyright information">
<meta name="author" content="author information">
<meta name="progid" content="application used to edit page">

 


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