Meta tagging is the process of placing specific pieces of information into the language that creates a Web page. Many types of meta elements may be placed within the language of a page. Search engines use the meta element data to glean information about individual Web pages. Using the process of meta tagging allows the Web page developer to place additional information within the language that creates the page but does not appear on the page itself.
Search engines, data collection robots, and Web page users take meta tagging information and use it to determine specific information about a Web page. Many search engines use the description element to provide a summary of the information included within the Web page. When a user completes a query on a search engine, the results of the search bring back a list of items that match the query. Each item returned for the query might include a summary of the information included on that specific Web page. The summary information provided within the search results is usually the data provided as the description meta tag.
The robot meta element is used by some developers and search engines to designate whether or not a data collection spider or robot should index the Web page. A variety of values may be placed within this meta tagging element to notify the search engine as to how to use its robots for indexing Web content. While certain search engines use this element to gather these values, it is apparently not the best way for a Web site to provide this information to each search engine. There are specific text files that should be stored within the files associated with a Web page that are a better way to provide this information.
Language is a meta element used by some Web developers to tell search engines the native language of the Web page. Tools on the Internet allow Web pages to be translated into other languages with the click of a button. The language meta element allows the search engine to know for certain which language has been used by the Web page. Meta tagging for language is beneficial for the users of the Web page; however, it has no effect on the page’s ranking with a given search engine.
Another meta element frequently used is the keyword. Historically, meta tagging for keywords was an important part of the search engine optimization process. Search engines would use the information included within the keyword meta element to learn the key information areas included within a given Web page. This element was abused by a variety of players on the Internet, so all search engines stopped using this meta element for any type of search engine ranking. Many Web developers continue to use this meta element on their Web pages even though the search engines have discontinued their use of the information.