How to use Meta Tags in HTML

Posted on 17th April 2013

Meta tags are elements that provide information to the web browser and the search engines. They are invisible to the users but they play a major role in how your website is treated by the search engines. This article provides information on how to use the Meta tags effectively on your website.

Meta tags are placed inside the Head section of you page and they begin with the word META followed by a property name and its value. Meta tags are singleton elements so they don\'t have a closing tag. For example, to set the author of a page, you declare
<meta name="author" content="George">
In this example you declare the property name as Author and the value is set to George.

Meta tags that gives information to the browsers use the attribute http-equiv instead of name.

There are several predefined name and values for Meta tags. Some are more important than the other. The important ones are:

1. Meta Keywords

The Meta keywords is a list of comma separated keywords that describe the content of your page. In the very early days search engines used this tag to categorize and index websites. But when webmasters started spamming by using hundreds of keywords that have no relation to the content, many search engines started to ignore this tag. However, most website authors still use this tag and you should not ignore it either.

To write meta keywords for your page first identify up to 10 keywords that best describe your page. If your page is about gardening then your meta keywords tag should look similar to this

<meta name="keywords" content="gardening, plants, flowers, pests, gardener ">

2. Meta Description

The Meta description provides a short description of your page to search engines. This description will generally be displayed in the search results along with the page title.
Here are some guidelines for using meta descriptions

  1. Add clear and specific description every page on your website. Avoid duplicate descriptions in your pages.
  2. Keep the length of the description between 25 to 150 characters. If your description is less than 25 characters search engines like Google won\'t use that on their search result listing.
  3. Include your site keywords in the description and make it more compelling for the users to click your link from the search results.

A meta description for your gardening page would be similar to this

<meta name="description" content="Gardening help and information about plants, flowers and pest control">

3. Meta Charset

The charset meta tag defines the character encoding for your webpage. It will inform the browser which character set is used. Common encodings are UTF-8 for Unicode and ISO- 8859-1 for Latin. It is very important to set this meta data especially if your site contains non-English characters and it must be placed between the Head and Title tag.
To set the charset to UTF-8 :

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">

HTML 5 has a new attribute charset to define the character encoding. In HTML 5 you can also use the following declaration

<meta charset="utf-8">

Optional Meta Tags

Here is a list of some of the optional meta tags

AuthorTo specify the author of the document.
<meta name="author" content="Patrick">
CopyrightTo include the copyright information
<meta name="copyright" content="2013 Open Tech Guides">
RefreshInstructs the web browser to refresh or redirect the page after the specified time
To refresh the page after 10 seconds:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10">
To redirect the page 10 seconds:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10;URL=\'\' ">
RobotsTo give various instructions to search engine robots that crawl your site. You can have one or more of the following values for this property
  1. INDEX : Index this page
  2. NOINDEX: Do not index this page
  3. FOLLOW: Follow the links in this page
  4. NOFOLLOW: Do not follow the links in this page
  5. NOARCHIVE: Do not archive (cache) this page
  6. ALL: Index, follow and archive this page
  7. NONE: Ignore this page
To index and follow the page:
<meta name="robots" content="INDEX,FOLLOW">


Meta Tags play a key role when it comes to search engine marketing. It is very important that a webmaster knows how meta tags work and how to use them effectively. Never underestimate its value.

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