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Use Meta Tags for Search Engine Optimization

Statistics show that only one of every four Web Sites use Meta tags. However using these tags can give your site an advantage over other sites that do not. Meta tags enable most visitors to initially find your site from the search engines.

What are Meta Tags?

These are HTML tags that provide information that describes the content of the web pages that the visitor will be viewing. Web Site owners use this resource to control their positioning and descriptions in the search engines. Most search engines incorporate reading meta tags as part of their indexing formula.

Where to Place Meta Tags

They should go in between the <head> and </head> tags in your html page.

Types of Meta Tags

The Doctype tag The DTD (Document Type Definition) tag precedes the opening <HTML> tag. It is generally the first element to be used on any page. It distinguishes the version of HTML in use from other versions of HTML and tells the browser what tags to expect when laying out the page.

<!doctype html public "-//wc3//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en">

If a browser doesn't understand a tag, it just ignores it. This, in effect, renders <!doctype> useless. For the proponents of strict standardization, a statement like <!doctype> would ensure standardization. If a browser didn't recognize the statement, it could ignore the page.

META Tags and Document Identification

The syntax for the <meta> tag is:

<meta name="namevalue" content="contentvalue"> or <meta http-equiv="namevalue" content="contentvalue">

The <META> tag requires the CONTENT attribute and adds either the NAME or HTTP-EQUIV attribute. These define the general information you are creating or changing in the document, and the CONTENT attribute defines the value of the general information.

HTTP-EQUIV Attribute

<META HTTP-EQUIV> tags are equivalent to HTTP headers. To understand headers, you must understand the process that occurs when you use a Web browser to request a document from a Web server. You request information using your browser and the Web Server receives your request via HTTP, the standard Web protocol. When the server finds the page you requested, it generates an HTTP response. The initial data in that response is called the HTTP header block. This header gives the Web browser information useful for displaying the page.

Common Examples of the HTTP-EQUIV Attribute Value Language META Tag This is an optional tag. It declares to users the natural language of the document being indexed. Search engines which index websites based on language often read this tag to determine which language(s) is supported. This tag is particularly useful for non-english and multiple language websites.

<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en">

Content-type Tag

The Content-Type entity-header field indicates the media type of the entity-body sent to the recipient. This is an optional tag.

<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">

Expires META Tag

An optional tag that defines the date when the file will be considered expired in cache and a new page will be generated. Only use when your website is running a limited time event or there is a preset date when your document will no longer be valid.

<meta http-equiv="expires" content="Tue, 04 Dec 1993 21:29:02 GMT">

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