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HTML META tag FAQ


Why use HTML meta tags?
There are many times where you want to include information about a document that is not actually part of the document itself. Such information is know as meta data. The HEAD element of HTML provides a place to provide this meta data, for example with the TITLE element for the document's title and the STYLE element for the document's style sheet.

There is also a way to include pretty much any meta data you like through the use of the META element. Initially, the main use of the element was to indicate things like an expiry date to the web server. Recently, the search engine AltaVista has started making use of the element in it's indexing of web pages.

The META element is empty which means it has no content and no end-tag. Instead, the information is expressed in the attributes of the start-tag. The tags generally come in the form:

	<META NAME=name-of-meta-data CONTENT="content of meta data">

So if you wanted to indicate the author of the document you could write:
	<HEAD>
	...
	<META NAME=author CONTENT="Mr. Jinngles">
	...
	</HEAD>

You can have as many different META tags as you like, one for each bit of meta information you want to include with the document.
The TITLE tag
This meta tags gives the page a name to identify it on search engines, and in your bookmarks or favourites list. The most common title is.....you guessed it, No Title. Many sites use the companies business name in the meta tags which is fine to get the site found on a search for Gianni Versace, but not if you want to be found by new customers who are searching for generic products or services. It is useful to include your favourite keywords in your title meta tags, preferably at the start, as this carries lots of weight when it comes to ranking a site with search engines.

Don't forget: The title tag is the first thing people will see when they spot your page in the search results. Keep it short and appealing. Make the title sell your site!
DESCRIPTION META tag
A brief description of your website. It should be written with proper grammar and proper punctuation. It should contain keywords from your webpage. It should not contain hype statements or marketing language, like, this is the "only", "best" or "greatest". Avoid "Welcome to". Do not use "!". It should be a maximum of 150 characters.
KEYWORDS META tag
These meta tags are where you list those words or terms you want to be found under. Try to keep the metat tags keyword list short and separate each word or phrase with a comma. Consider using foreign language variations of your main keywords to attract searches from non-English speaking clients. Do not repeat keywords more than twice in the Keywords meta tags as this can be considered spamming by some engines.
AUTHOR META tag
You should use the Author tag. It defines who the author is and who is responsible for updates. You can use the name, company name, email address of the webmaster or Internet address (URL).
COPYRIGHT META tag
For copyright identification purposes, this tag holds the copyright statement. It can be the name of the copyright holder.
EXPIRES META tag
Instructs the visitors cache to refresh after the number of days indicated in the content value. This can be set to "0" if you update content regularily and want each visitor to be presented with the freshiest content.
ROBOTS META tag
Tells the search engines spider (robot) what pages to access and which pages to not access on your website. The categories available are:

ALL                 means that robots are welcome to include and follow all the
                        pages in the search services.

INDEX             means that robots are welcome to include this page in search
                        services.

FOLLOW         means that robots are welcome to follow links from this page to
                        find other pages.

NOINDEX         allows the subsidiary links to be explored, even though the
                        page is not indexed.

NOFOLLOW     allows the page to be indexed, but no links from the page are
                        explored.

NONE               tells the robot to ignore the page.
CHARSET META tag
This tag includes the charset tag and is required by the W3C.

Example: <META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

Commonly used character encodings are:

ISO-8859-1     (also referred to as "Latin-1"; usable for most Western European
                      languages)

ISO-8859-5     (which supports Cyrillic)

SHIFT_JIS     (a Japanese encoding)

EUC-JP         (another Japanese encoding)

UTF-8           (using a different number of bytes for different characters)
LANGUAGE META tag
Declares the language of the documents context.
BG (Bulgarian)
CS (Czech)
DA (Danish)
DE (German)
EL (Greek)
EN (English)
EN-GB (English-Great Britain)
EN-US (English-United States)
ES (Spanish)
ES-ES (Spanish-Spain)
FI (Finnish)
HR (Croatian)
IT (Italian)
FR (French)
FR-CA (French-Quebec)
FR-FR (French-France)
IT (Italian)
JA (Japanese)
KO (Korean)
NL (Dutch)
NO (Norwegian)
PL (Polish)
PT (Portuguese)
RU (Russian)
SV (Swedish)
ZH (Chinese)
   
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