HTML Meta Tags

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Guy Levine
on 15/8/08

We looked previously at the keywords meta tag and the description meta tag. To sumarise what we learn't the keywords meta tag is pretty much useless and the description meta tag is the opposite and is actually extremely underused.

The power of the description is in controlling how Google describes a site in it's listings. This is actually easier said than done, when Google works out how best to describe a listing it sometimes throws a spanner in the works so in a future post will look at how you can really enhance your listing.

Here we are going to look at other meta tags. Well the simple answer is in the main these are pretty useless as well.

There are two main problems with meta tags. ultimately they are just labels. Some labels provide useful information for certain things, for example if you sign up to Google Webmasters you have to upload a file to your server or put a meta tag in your site to authenticate that you are the owner or webmaster. Ultimately visitors aren't going to click on your source code to be viewing your meta data because it's of no interest to them unless they're a web designer and they're looking to borrow some code.

For Ranking purposes all meta data is pretty useless, in fact if you have too much unnecessary clutter in your code you lower your ratio of content to code and this will have a negative effect on your rankings.

Lets look at a few of the more common meta tags.

Author meta tag

I read recently that a site can fail one of the many different coding tests if this meta tag is not in a site. I don't remember what it was for exactly or even if this is actually true but ultimately who cares? If you have a web site your main concern is that it is friendly and attractive to your visitors. What interests me about this tag as someone who started designing web sites over 10 years ago is this tag will often tell someone that looks if the site is designed using a cms or a wysiwyg. You can often spot these a mile of by the standard of the design. What makes me chuckle is the number of web designers who actually leave the author tag in there pages which explain they've used something like Dreamweaver to design their sites.

Robots tag

We've already covered the Robots Meta Tag in some detail. Having a follow, index is pretty useless Google's going to index your site unless you specificially ask it not to which is what this tag is for. The real power is in having a page indexed but not followed or vice versa.

Robots Revisit

Is this important? It's a similar story. Picture the scenario. You are Google and it's your job to firstly index the whole web effectively. Do you think all those sites that have a Robots Revisit tag that stipulates something like 7 days are going to get Google to do exactly what they have requested when Googlebot knows you've not changed your page for 6 months or a year? Utterly pointless.

There is however one powerful meta tag, which is a variation of the robots tag, which if you have a listing in the open directory or Yahoo's own directory stops Search Engines using it to describe a site in it's listing which we will deal with in a future post.