4Head Tag, MetaTags & Titles

The head tag, meta tags and titles have a great deal to do with what you see in a search engine.

The <head> tag contains the last of our basic page structure. This pair of tags goes between the html and body tags, and contains a number of helpful elements not displayed in the normal browser window:

Anything here is not displayed within the browser window



:: The Title Tag

As an example, let's say we're building the Joe's Bookshelf website, and that the purpose of the website is to sell rare and used history books. Because the <title> tag will be the title of the link to the site displayed in search engines, it should reflect what that particular page is about:

<title>Joe's Bookshelf - Rare and Used History Books</title>

Links in search engines that say "Welcome to My Home Page" or even "Untitled" are not too appealing — and this is where you should start attracting visitors to your website.


:: The Meta Tags

Like the <title> tag, the Meta Tags contain information that (hopefully) identifies and describes the content of a web page. While there appear to be a plethora of meta-type tags, only two are important: the description and keywords tags. The idea here is to provide accurate, compelling information without loading up your pages with unnecessary code:

:: Note about MetaTags. Contrary to popular belief, Meta Tags are not the end-all and be-all for getting high search engine rankings that they were in the late 1990's. You cannot get good search engine rankings solely by adding or "tweaking" meta tags — so don't let anyone fool you. But they're still important. Why? Because (a) some search engines still give them some importance in ranking, however slight, and (b) they're what people see at the search engines.

Let's address our individual meta tags:


:: (1) The Meta Description Tag

The description meta tag contains the descriptive text you see under the link to pages in the search engines. It can expand on the title and give further (compelling) information. Note that you're trying to get people to visit the website (i.e., you're selling); this is not the time to cram hundreds of words into a tag — or to try to divert visitors interested in something other than what your website is about. (Note that Google, for one, generally displays snippets of your text that mention the search term.)

Note that the closing "tag" is a simple ">.

<meta name="description" content="Browse our collection of rare and used history books in our online store.">


:: (2) The Meta Keywords Tag

The meta keywords tag is used for words that people would use at search engines to find your page; that is, "keywords".

<meta name="keywords" content="used history books for sale online, rare history books, Joe's Bookshelf">

However, use some discretion about your choice of keywords: although many search engines claim they allow up to 1000 characters in the keywords meta tag, one can find some pretty silly keyword collections on the Web. Your site is about "selling used history books"; it is not about "enjoyment" or "daydreaming" or "hobbies". Lots of website visitor traffic is a good thing; visitors who were looking for something else are not and will be gone in a New York second (that is, fast).


:: Language Tag

In simplest terms, the language tag tells the browser what language to displayed your page in. This is the standard English tag:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">


Putting it Together

So, what do we end up with?

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
Joe's Bookshelf - Used History Books for Sale</title>
<meta name="description" content="Browse our vast collection of used and rare history books online.">
<meta name="keywords" content="
used history books for sale online, rare history books, Joe's Bookshelf">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">


  • I've seen pages with a gazillion MetaTags. Do I need all these?

    No. They don't all work; some website authoring programs generate zillions of MetaTags (including ones that carry the name of the software); all add to the download time.

  • Should you have the same Title and MetaTags on every page?

    Well ... is every page of your website about precisely the same thing?


That's it. Now, to add the "visible part of the page" — Adding Page Content

  1. The Learn Basic HTML Series:
    1. Learn Basic HTML and Web Page Construction
    2. What is HTML?
    3. HTML Page Structure
    4. Head Tag, MetaTags & Titles
    5. Adding Page Content
    6. Tables
    7. CSS and Fonts
    8. Putting It All Together
    9. Finale

DianeV Web Design Studio

© 1998- DianeV Web Design Studio. All Rights Reserved. :: Privacy/Legal/Return Policy. Any unauthorized reproduction
or distribution of the contents of this website is a violation of copyright law and may result in severe civil and criminal penalties.