It is a myth among web designers that with the right meta tags you can make it to the top on all search engines.
The truth is close to being the opposite.
With the wrong meta tags you can make it to the bottom,
but meta tags alone do not take you to the top anywhere.
Two meta tags have special relevance for search engines: Description and Keywords.
When search engines first started to look for these meta tags, the intention was that web designers could emphasize what the pages were about. For example, a scientific page about the surface of the moon might not have the word "moon" on it, although the page definately related to the topic "moon".
Creative minds didn't take long to find out that this could be an excellent tool for improving search rankings. Many webmasters included keywords and descriptions that held no relevance to their page.
THE STRIKE BACK
After some time, the meta tags did not serve the purpose they were intended for. Most were being used for spamming. Therefore, some search engines, such as Excite, stopped looking at them entirely.
Other search engines, such as Infoseek, directed the spammers weapons back at them. They simply ranked sites lower if the meta tags included words that were not present in the content of the page.
- Use meta tags with care.
- Do not include words that are not present on your pages.
- Do not repeat words.
- Use the meta tags the way they were intended, because the search engines are well aware that meta tags are an excellent filter for spam sites.
Let's proceed to the details about the tags.
<META name="DESCRIPTION" content="AN HTML Tutorial"> |
Most search engines will display the description when they list results from a search.
If you do not include this tag, then the engine will simply list the first words on the page - which is not always very meaningful.
This meta tag was intended to be used for keywords with special relevance for the page.
But because of misuse, many engines skip them. Others use them as an indicator of whether a page is spam or not.
The few that use them to indicate what the page is really about, do not value them as much as they used to.
Many HTML editors create a meta tag telling which program was used for the page.
<META name="GENERATOR" content="Frontpage 3.0"> |
Another common tag tells who created the page:
<META name="AUTHOR" content="Bill Gates"> |
Finally there are some meta tags that are only relevant to certain search engines.
Individual search engines will recognize different tags telling it when to come back and re-index the site etc.
Look at the help sections for particular search engines to see which meta tags are supported.