Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code. We all know tags from blog culture, and meta tags are more or less the same thing, little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.
The only difference between tags you can see (on a blogpost, say) and tags you can’t see is location: meta tags only exist in HTML, usually at the “head” of the page, and so are only visible to search engines (and people who know where to look). The “meta” stands for “metadata,” which is the kind of data these tags provide – data about the data on your page.
Do Meta Tags Help SEO?
Yes, they do, but not all of them and not all of the time. One of the goals of this page is to explain which meta tags help you to get the word out and which have become passé.
If you want to find out whether a given page is using meta tags, just right-click anywhere on the page and select “View Page Source.”
A new tab will open in Chrome (in Firefox, it’ll be a pop-up window). The part at the top, or “head” of the page, is where the meta tags could be.
Know Your Meta Tags
There are four major types of meta tags worth knowing about and we’ll talk about them all here. Some are not as useful as they once were. Others are worth using regularly, and will very likely increase your traffic by letting Google know who you are and what you provide. (There are more than four kinds of meta tags, but some are less common or not relevant to web marketing).
The four types we’ll discuss here are:
1. Meta Keywords Attribute - A series of keywords you deem relevant to the page in question.
2. Title Tag - This is the text you'll see at the top of your browser. Search engines view this text as the "title" of your page.
3. Meta Description Attribute - A brief description of the page.
4. Meta Robots Attribute - An indication to search engine crawlers (robots or "bots") as to what they should do with the page.
So how important is the Meta tag?
Although the benefits conferred by using the various meta tags on your page are not substantial, they are nonetheless useful in controlling how the search engines index and list your page. Since tags like the description and robots tag require very little effort to add to your page, it is probably a good idea to add at least these tags to your pages.
META TAG GENERATOR