Now, before we look at the tags, a quick note on where they should

go on your page. You should always put them in the head of the

HTML document between the actual “<HEAD>” tags, before the

“<BODY>” tag. Why? First off, it’s just good management to have

them up at the top and easy to track for future edits. Second, it’s

important with framed pages, as webmasters will sometimes forget

to add them to the individual pages. If you only use meta tags on

frameset pages, you’ll be missing possible traffic.

 

Let’s take a look at the first type of tag, the meta description:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE>YOUR SITE NAME</TITLE>

<META name=”description” content=”A clear but relatively brief description

of your site goes here.”>

</HEAD>

 

The only thing above (aside from your site’s title) you need to touch

is the sentence describing your site (past the “content=”).

 

Now, Let’s go back to my earlier example of the fellow with the

video game review site. Let’s say his site’s title is “Games 4 U!,”

along with that weird dedication to his parents. Chances are the

spiders are going to give a result that in no way ties this site to

video games.

 

This site reviews Playstation, Nintendo 64, and Dreamcast console

games. So a good use of the meta description would be:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE> Games 4 U!</TITLE>

<META name=”description” content=”Reviews of the hottest PlayStation, N64,

and Dreamcast video games on the market.”>

</HEAD>

 

That’s a short and concise sentence explaining what the site is all

about. When the spiders and robots come to the site, they will pick

up the above description, and use it in the results the engines give.

Therefore, try to avoid being too cryptic in your descriptions, such

as the case:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE> Games 4 U!</TITLE>

<META name=”description” content=”There be games here.”>

</HEAD>

 

Chances are, the reader of the latter example’s description would

think that the site actually has games, rather than reviews.

 

Meta keywords are just that — specific words that can be found on

or help to describe your site.

 

In our continuing example, we want to ensure that when someone

goes to the search engine and types in “PlayStation,” our Games 4

U! site has a good chance of popping up.

 

Here is the code for the meta keywords:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE>My World</TITLE>

<META name=”keywords” content=”first word, second word, third

word, fourth word, fifth word”>

</HEAD>

 

Let’s choose obvious keywords such as “PlayStation,” “Nintendo,”

“Dreamcast,” “video games,” and “reviews,” and take a look at our

example:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE>My World</TITLE>

<META name=”keywords” content=”PlayStation, Nintendo, Dreamcast, games,

reviews”>

</HEAD>

 

Now, let’s combine our description and keywords tags to make a

complete example of what your Meta tags should look like:

 

<HEAD>

<TITLE> Games 4 U!</TITLE>

<META name=”description” content=”Reviews of the hottest PlayStation, N64

and Dreamcast video games on the market.”>

<META name=”keywords” content=”PlayStation, Nintendo, Dreamcast, games,

reviews”>

</HEAD>

 

How Much Is Too Much?

There are varying schools of thought on how many keywords one

should have in the tag. For instance, should we include the keyword

“video games,” even though we have the word “games” in the list

already? For that matter, should we then add the word “video?”

And why not include “N64” as well as “Nintendo?” Some folks feel

that there’s nothing wrong with having as many keywords as

possible in the tag. Others say since you can never anticipate every

single inquiry someone is going to type into a search engine, you

should just focus on the most important words. For the most part,

it’s up to you.

 

There is, however, one important reason for keeping your

keywords to a five to seven word minimum. Some search engines

penalize for keyword spamming, or repetitious use of certain words

(e.g. music, music, music, videos, videos). This is often popular

with the, how shall we say…seedier sites on the Web. Basically, just

remember a paragraph of keywords is just overkill, and in some

places can cost you (more than likely with the removal of your site

from the engine).

 

The description and keywords metas are the more frequently used

of the tags, but are by no means the only ones.

 

For instance, if you want to add a tag that will indicate the creator of

the website, you can insert the author meta tag:

 

<META NAME=”author” CONTENT=”John Doe”>

 

Copyright meta tags provide just that:

 

<META NAME=”copyright” CONTENT=”Copyright (c), 1999

Games 4U inc.”>

 

In addition, there is an expiration date meta tag. If the John Doe of

the Games 4U! site had a contest on his website that was going to

end on Dec. 1, 1999, he could add the following code to the

contest page:

 

<META NAME=”expires” CONTENT=”1 December 1999″>

 

This would alert the engines that this particular page has a limited

“shelf life” on the Web.

 

Hop, Skip, And A Meta Jump

There’s another use for meta tags that few people know about. If

you’ve ever gone to a favorite website only to discover that they’ve

moved to another server or changed addresses, you’ll often see a

note that says “Hi, we’ve moved to blah blah…click below or wait

ten seconds for your browser to go to our new home.” Within a few

seconds, you jump from the old page to the new. That’s a meta tag

in action. The code is simply:

 

<META HTTP-EQUIV=”refresh” CONTENT=”10; URL=http://games4u.com”>

 

The “10” after content tells the browser how many seconds to wait

before jumping to the new URL, which is clearly indicated in the

code above.

 

Incidentally, you’ll notice that in this particular bit of coding, the

beginning is different. It’s not just simply “META NAME,” but rather

“META HTTP-EQUIV.” These are META HTTP-EQUIV, tags which

are a little different from the others described earlier. These tags

(among other things) can control and/or direct the actions of your

browser (as we saw with the web jump). But these are tags for

another day.

 

For now, you have a basic idea how meta tags work, and how they

can potentially improve your traffic. Again, they should not be

considered a “Be all, end all” when it comes to increasing your site

visibility and traffic. However, as the saying goes, “They sure can’t

hoit.”