Information Solutions: Improving Search Results - Meta Tags

Definition and Usage

Metadata is data (information) about data. The <meta> tag provides metadata about the HTML document. Metadata will not be displayed on the page, but will be machine parsable. Meta elements are typically used to specify page description, keywords, author of the document, last modified, and other metadata. The metadata can be used by browsers (how to display content or reload page), search engines (keywords), or other web services.

Tips and Notes

Note: <meta> tags always goes inside the <head> element.

Note: Metadata is always passed as name/value pairs.

Note: The content attribute MUST be defined if the name or the http-equiv attribute is defined. if none of these are defined, the content attribute CANNOT be defined.

Differences Between HTML 4.01 and HTML5

The scheme attribute is not supported in HTML5.

HTML5 has a new attribute, charset, which makes it easier to define charset:

  • HTML 4.01: <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
  • HTML5: <meta charset="UTF-8">

Differences Between HTML and XHTML

In HTML the <meta> tag has no end tag.

In XHTML the <meta> tag must be properly closed.


Example 1 - Define keywords for search engines:

        	<meta name="keywords" content="HTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, JavaScript">

Example 2 - Define a description of your web page:

        	<meta name="description" content="Free Web tutorials on HTML and CSS">

Example 3 - Define the author of a page:

        	<meta name="author" content="Hege Refsnes">

Recomended Meta Tags For APS web pages

            <TITLE>Title of page</TITLE>
            <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
            <meta name="Title" CONTENT="Title of page">
            <meta name="description" CONTENT="This is a key sentance about my website." />
            <meta name="copyright" CONTENT="Advanced Photon Source | Group" />
            <meta name="author" CONTENT="Advanced Photon Source | Group">
            <meta name="keywords" content="space, astro, fast, nano, pico" />
            <meta name="distribution" content="global" />
            <meta name="robots" content="follow, all" />
            <meta name="language" content="en" />
            <meta http-equiv="Cache-control" content="public"> 

*It is recomended to leave the Advanced Photon Source in place and just change/remove the Group, because it will assist with outward facing searches as well.

*The above content can be viewed at W3schools