HTML Meta Data

HTML Meta data can be used to provide a bit more information about your web pages. It is contained within the <head> tag of your HTML document, and as such is invisible to your visitors. So why bother with it at all?

The original intention of Meta attributes was to help search engines determine what your web page was about. Armed with this information search engines could then decide the best way to rank your site in their results.

This sounds like a great idea, and indeed it probably could've been, but before long website creators figured out that they could use the Meta tags of their pages to improve their search engine rankings. They did this in several ways, including repeating keywords several times to make the search engines think they were more relevant than they actually were, and even including words that weren't even related to their site, just to get more visitors to their sites.

Unfortunately this "keyword spamming" soon meant that search engine results started to become less and less relevant, and as a result many search engines stopped using some or all of the Meta data present on web pages.

However, some types of Meta data still have their uses, and indeed some are theoretically required in your web pages (in reality web browsers can still function without these "required" Meta attributes, but there are considerable benefits to using them).

Over the next few pages we'll examine a few of the most common Meta attributes in detail.