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What is a Meta Tag?

Meta tags are part of a website's coding that visitor's won't see.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2014
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A meta tag is a line of HTML coding that contains metadata about a webpage. The information in the tag doesn't change how the page looks; it won’t be seen by the website viewer, unless they are viewing your source code. There are two common types of meta tags — meta description tags and meta keywords tags.

Meta description tags describe, in some way, the webpage. For instance for this wiseGEEK article page, we might use “everything you want to know about meta tags.” The meta keywords tag lists other words that a visitor might be searching for, like meta tags, HTML and meta tags, tags, SEO.

Both types of tags are located in the heading section of your HTML code and usually below the title. You might have the following heading for your webpage:
<HEAD>
<TITLE>How to Create a Meta Tag</TITLE>
<META name =“description” content=”Everything you want to know about Meta Tags”>
<META name =”keywords” content=”meta, meta tags, HTML and meta tags, tags, SEO”>
</HEAD>

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The purpose of these tags is to inform web crawlers about your page. They existed before search engines, but today, they primarily used in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Using them may help web crawlers more easily index your pages in search engines, but, not all web crawlers or robots pay attention to these tags anymore. Some still do though, and learning how to create a meta tag on each page may help promote greater visibility on certain search engines, and may increase the likelihood of your page coming up as a choice when people search under alternate but related names to your content.

Some web crawlers may ignore a meta description tag and substitute its own. This is true of some of the bigger search engines like Google®. Smaller search engines may specifically use your description meta tag as the page description, so be certain about what you put in there.

Content meta tags may also be ignored to a degree, especially if the words are not listed in your content. If you plan to optimize your search results, use any and all content tag words at least once on your page. These tags aren’t the only way to achieve a greater web presence. Using your main keyword several times is very important. People tend not to be fooled by keyword repetition. If your content isn’t well-written, accurate and engaging, repetition of a keyword and meta tag use alone is unlikely to have people returning to your website.

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Discuss this Article

rhen10
Post 3

I have started a small wedding business on the Gulf Coast. Pretty much all of our customers find our website by search engines. I pay for google ad words but find that my competitors are almost always above me if I'm even on the first two pages at all. I have been researching trying to find out how to fix this problem.

I have learned that I need to be indexed by google (which I'm not quite sure how to do and am scared to mess my site up) also I have been reading up on meta tags. However, this article says they are dated and your larger search engines will not pick up on them. I feel as if everyone is googling because that is the largest engine. So if anyone has any advice as to what I need to do, please share with me. Thank you very much -Rhen

gameaddicted
Post 2

Many people rely on Meta Tag Generators because they are fast and effective. They also provide you with a number of different Meta Tags based on just the input of a little information about your site. Generators are a great way to quickly pop in tags without having to think much about them afterward.

baileybear
Post 1

Generally encoding a Meta Description Tag into your site is more effective than keywords. Surprised? The reasoning behind this is that it's moreover a phrase rather than individual words. You can spend all day trying to guess what word some one is going to say, but if you all ready know the general idea behind the site they need, you can more easily create a description of the site with keywords within it.

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