Meta tags were originally designed as a means for search engines the world over to index and catalogue websites. Google and Yahoo in there earlier days laid massive emphasis on Meta tags and the first step in search engine optimization was to insert proper meta tags in documents. Since then however the massive misuse of meta tags and with search engines switching to a more content centric approach, meta tags have become a lost art.
Important Meta tags
Meta tags are usually written in a predefined format, the name and description details are numerous and there is a complete list of types of meta tags based on the name property of the tag. However for search engine optimization purposes the most elementary and the most essential meta tags today are the name = “keywords” and name = “description”. These two meta tags are the most essential meta tags that contribute to a pages indexing and searching in search engines.
Keywords meta tag
The first meta tag “keywords” actually labels a web page with the keywords it should be associated with, the object of the tag is to allow the search engine to sift through the relevant keywords the web page wishes to be associated with, earlier this meta tag alone was sufficient to get a web page ranked on a search engine for a particular keyword. However recently most search engines have placed a greater emphasis on the keyword density of the content on the page. So much so that pages with a higher keyword density have reported better positions than pages with higher page ranks but lower keyword density. All in all the importance of the keyword meta tag is moot and while using the keywords meta tag one must remember to cater for various combinations of the keywords as well as common spelling mistakes. For example the keyword “Color copies” will be more user friendly for US English users however UK users would type in “Colour Copies”.
Description meta tag
The description meta tag is one of the most controversial meta tag’s today, some SEO guru’s claim that the description meta tag should be short and precise, while others believe a paragraph describing the contents of the web page is acceptable. Since no one knows for a fact what really makes search engines tick, the length and content of the description meta tag are still a matter of personal opinion, one thing is for certain, the description meta tag should generally have meaningful content and not content like “color copies colour copies colour copies printing”. Misuse of the tag has resulted in black listing of web pages or non indexing in the past.
There are more meta tags that can be used to increase the effectiveness of the indexing of web pages, however experts the world over agree that the above meta tags form the crux of essential meta tags for every website.