Understand search engine Meta Tags
Meta Tags are information inserted into the "head" area of your web pages. Other than the title tag, information in the head area of your web pages is not seen by those viewing your pages in browsers. Instead, meta information in this area is used to communicate information that a human visitor may not be concerned with. Meta tags, for example, can tell a browser what "character set" to use.
Meta tags have never been a guaranteed way to gain a top ranking on crawler-based search engines. Today, the most valuable feature they offer the web site owner is the ability to control to some degree how their web pages are described by some search engines. They also offer the ability to prevent pages from being indexed at all.
How Google Tackles Meta Tags explains Google submitting tips, ranking high at Google, Google ranking tips, pagerank algorithm and Google algorithm guide. Remember these guidelines are only for Google SE. You still have your keywords and description meta tags for other SEs.
The META keywords tag isn't absolutely necessary, but the META description tag is very important. There are several meta tags that you can add to your pages, but the only useful ones are the keywords tag, the description tag and the robots tag.
Use meta tags accordingly on each page of your website so that search engine robots know at first glance what that particular page is about and whether or not to index it. By using meta tags, you are making the search engine robot's job easier so they will crawl and index your site more frequently.
Keywords should be in a descending order of importance. Move your most important keywords to the front, and don't repeat yourself (e.g. auto,parts,auto parts,Auto Parts). Keep the list short, to about 25 keywords. Lastly, eliminate spaces between the words. Make them "comma" instead of "comma space".
Rule #1: META tags always go in between the HEAD tags on your website.
Rule #2: NEVER include any line breaks in any META tag!
The two basic META tags are keywords and description.
The keyword tag looks like <meta name="keywords" content="create a website, build a web site, creating web pages, design, free website tutorials">
The description tag looks like <meta name="description" content="Website promotion tips: How to get into website search engines.">
IThe three major search engines (SEs) in North America are Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live Search (MSN), now known as BING. All three major engines use the title tag. Google seems to ignore or downplay the content of the description and keyword tags. The description is definitely used by Yahoo and MSN. Apparently, only Yahoo uses keywords.
Must have tags
Web designers should include these tags as well:
<meta name="author" content="yourname">
<meta name="copyright" content="Copyright 2009, yourname">
<meta name="generator" content="yourname or company">
These three tags may change if you are the owner of the company/website but not the creator. In that case, the first two lines would be about the company owner, while the third should be the creator or the creator's web address.
For visiting robots, you may want to add this line:
<meta name="robots" content="index,follow,noarchive">
Although most robots use the robots.txt file, Google in particular also pays attention to the third item - noarchive. This tells the search engine to index the page, but not to cache it. This comes in handy if you change your page often. Google will then always send the user to the latest version of the page, not one that it cached.
Taking care of Microsoft
Lastly, you may want to consider these two META tags for our wonderful Microsoft-controlled world:
<meta name="MSSmartTagPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
<meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="no">
The first turns off a feature in MS Internet Explorer which displays "smart tags", or dynamic links, to your website. These links can actually send the user to your competition's website. Not good!
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