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HTML - Tags - <META>

The HTML <META> tag is one of the most important and versatile tags available, but it is often overlooked because it produces no visible content on the viewer's console. META tags come in two types: the "HTTP-EQUIV=" and the "NAME=" tags, and are placed between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags.

The HTTP-EQUIV attribute modifies the http header information passed to the browser, which makes the tag extremely powerful. The NAME attribute is used for 'everything else' chiefly for indexing by 'bots. The most common NAME attributes currently in use are 'ROBOTS', 'DESCRIPTION', and 'KEYWORDS'.

For a discussion of these attributes, see the Vancouver-Webpages article: A Dictionary of HTML META Tags. For further discussion of the NAME attribute in indexing, and some concrete examples, see META Information and HTML Document Header Structure by Brian Harshaw.

Practical suggestions for improving your placement with search engines are available in Get Better Search Engine Placement including tips on keyword selection and a link to expert advice. Some additional thoughts along the same lines are in Northern Webs' Search Engine Tutorial.

There are numerous sites that will help you create and maintain META tags for your web pages. META builder 2 is our favorite. It's free and optionally includes tags for a subset of the emerging Dublin Core metadata standard. Another standard worth noting is the Simple HTML Ontology Extensions (SHOE) project at the University of Maryland.

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