Complete Updated Guide on Meta Tags and Meta Data and their Uses

by Shaleen - VP of Product Strategy, Marketing and Sales


Posted on May 7, 2020 at 12:00 PM


W3school.com defines Meta Data as "Data (information) about data". It further states that " <Meta> tags always go inside the <head> element, and they provide metadata about the HTML document."

Meta Data does not display on the webpage, but is written for to help browsers, search engines and other web services to make more sense out of the webpage.

For the beginners look at the head section of HTML code of a popular website to see the use of Meta Tags and Meta Data. Open a popular webpage right click on it and click on "View Page Source" and the backend code of the page becomes visible to you. Look at the image below to look at a small snippet.


Important Meta Data


<title>Types of SEO - Winalll</title>

Title Tag - This is one of the most important Tags on your web page.

<meta name="keywords" content="Digital Marketing, Meta Tags, Meta Data">

Keywords Meta Data - Helps Search Engines understand content and context of your page - Improve your SEO Though it's importance for Google Search Engine has reduced over time but it still makes intent of your page clear to the them.

<meta name="description" content="Free Web tutorials for Digital Marketing">

Description Meta Data - This is the tag which we suggest to Search Engines to display as a description of a search result. Its a suggestion from the publisher but it is upto the search engines what it deems fit to display. This is an important factor in your SEO. It has a massive effect on your page CTR because it shows up in search results.

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

<meta http-equiv = "Content-Type" content = "text/html; charset = Big5" />

Content-Type Meta Data - This is used to specify the Content Type used on the webpage. UTF-8 - for ISO-8859-1 (Latin1) encoding and Big5 - Traditional Chinese characters.

<meta name="author" content="Shaleen">

Author Meta Data - States the author of the page. It gives credit to the author who has created/edited the web page.

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="30">

Refresh Meta Data - This directs web page to refresh at the stated duration in seconds.

<meta http-equiv = "refresh" content = "5; url = http://www.winalll.com" />

Redirect Meta Data - Using Meta Data refresh in the above manner will redirect the webpage in stated amount of time. This is a good option for those web pages which need constant refresh to update data on the web page constantly.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

Viewport Meta Data - Each webpage has to serve devices with varying screens size and this Meta Data instructs browser how to control page's dimension and scaling. The width=device-width part sets the width of the page to follow the screen-width of the device and the initial-scale=1.0 part sets the initial zoom level when the page is first loaded by the browser.

<meta name="robots" />

Robots Meta Data - Controls how Search Engines crawl and index your webpage. If you not specify any robots Meta Tags and Data then
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
or
<meta name="robots" content="none">
is implemented by default, which means that Search Engines will crawl and index the page as needed.
<meta name="robots" content="noindex" /> This Meta Data is used if you do not want Search Engines to index you page i.e. your page will not appear in the search results.
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow" /> THis Meta Data is used when you do not want Search Engines to follow the links on the webpage.
<meta name="robots" content="noarchive" /> If we want Search Engines not to cache our webpage we should use this Meta Data.
<meta name="robots" content="noodp"> If you want Search Engines to use the description Meta Data only and not it's own then you will have to use this. This does not gaurantee that Search Engines use you description but there is no harm in useing it.

<meta http-equiv = "cookie" content = "userid = abc; expires = Friday, 21-Aug-2020 23:59:59 GMT;" />

Cookie Meta Data - You can set the cookie in this manner as well specify it's expiry date and time. If you do not specifiy date and time then its assumed to be a session cookie and will expire when you close the webpage.

<meta name = "revised" content = "Winalll, 5/11/2020" />

Revised Meta Data - This states the date on which the web page was revised. This is good from SEO perspective as it tells the Search Engines about the freshness of the web page.

General Meta Data


<link rel = "Canonical" Href = "http://www.winalll.com">

Canonical Meta Tag is actually a link element. In case your website has duplicate webpages and you want search engines to display the webpage you want then you should use this Meta Tag.

<meta name="copyright" content="Winalll">

Copyright Meta Tag - This Meta Tag is used to inform search engines that the photos and content on the webpage are protected. This has minimal impact on SEO.

<meta name="distribution" content="global">

Distribution Meta Tag - This Meta Tag is used to inform search engines that the content on the page is for Global "Global", Local "Local" or Internal consumption "IU" only. Most of the content on the Internet is for Global Consumption.

<meta http-equiv="expires" CONTENT="Tue, 20 Aug 2020 16:25:27 GMT">

Expires Meta Tag - If your webpage carries some content which will cease to be valid after a certain date and time then this is the place to inform the Search Engines about it. Like offers, schemes etc.

<meta name="news_keywords" content="keywords, news" />

Google News stopped looking for and using the news_keywords meta tag. It does no good, nor harm to have one.

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 3.0.1" />

Generator Meta Tag - Also called as the formatter tag, gives information about the program used to create the webpage.

Obsolete Meta Data


<meta name = "Reply-To" content = "info@winalll.com">

Reply-To Meta Data - States the email author of the page. No more in use as it was used by robots to harvest email ids.

<meta name = "Abstract" content="Free Web tutorials for Digital Marketing">

Abstract Meta Tag - This Meta Tag is now abstract. It was earliest used along with description tag to give an abstract about the webpage.

<meta name="language" content="French">

This has not been defined in any specification.


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