Considering META Tags - dummies

Considering META Tags

One of the most interesting, and controversial, tags in
HTML is the META tag. That’s because META tags affect how your Web page appears
in search engines, and some people go to great lengths to have their pages rank
high in search engine lists. The META tag is used for meta-information
— information about your Web page, rather than information that displays in
your Web page.

The META tag has one main purpose: To better describe
your Web page to the spider programs that gather Web information for search
engines. Some search engines depend heavily on the contents of META tags to
decide how to index pages for use in search results, and to find a description of
the page to use in the search results themselves.

META tags consist of three pieces: The word META, a field
that describes the content of the META tag, and the information that goes in the
field. Here’s the META tag that SeaMonkey Composer puts in all your Web pages:
<meta http-equiv=”content-type” content=”text/html;

This tag is simply three fields of data. The first tells
a Web spider that this is a META tag. The second says that it’s the
“content-type” version of a META tag. The third says that the content of this Web
page is text, in HTML format; it uses the character set ISO-8859-1, or standard
English-language ASCII characters. You can add this META tag to any document you

For additional information about META tags, check out Search Engine Watch. This
Web site has the latest and greatest information about Web search

Adding META tags with HTML

You can easily add META tags to your HTML document:

1. Open your Web page in your text-editing program (such as

2. Add the author, description, and keyword META
tags to your document in the header area, between the <head> and
</head> tags:

<meta name=”author” content=”xxx”>

<meta name=”description” content=”yyy”>

<meta name=”keyword” content=”z1″, “z2”,”z3″…>

Replace xxx with your name; yyy
with the description of your Web page that you want to have appear in a search
engine’s results; and z1, z2, z3, and so on, with the keywords related to the
content of your page. For a personal Web page, good keywords are your first name,
last name, your full name, and keywords relating to the interests described on
your page.

3. Save your document and then exit your
text-editing program.

You can’t preview this change in a Web browser because
META tags aren’t visible when you view your Web page in a browser. So simply save
your document and exit.

Adding META tags with Composer

Most changes to your Web page are easier with Composer than
with HTML in a text editor. However, because adding META tags involves adding
HTML code directly to your document, it’s actually a bit complex to do this in

1. Open your Web page in Composer.

Choose Start –> Programs –> SeaMonkey –> SeaMonkey
to start SeaMonkey Navigator. Then choose Window –> Composer to start
Composer. Finally, choose File –> Open to open your Web page file. Your Web
page opens in Composer.

2. Within Composer, choose Format
–> Page Title and Properties.

The Page Properties
dialog box opens.

3. Enter or modify the contents of the
Author and Description fields. Don’t be afraid to write a long description, even
though the dialog box doesn’t have much space for it. (You can also take this
opportunity to modify the title of your Web page if you want.) Click OK when you

Composer automatically generates the author
and description META tags for you and places them in the Header area of the HTML
document you’re creating.

The description you enter may show up as the
description of your Web page in the results page of a search

Next, you need to enter the keywords for search engines
to associate with your Web page. You have to work directly in HTML to do

4. In Composer, click the HTML Source tab, or choose
View –> HTML Source.

The HTML source for your Web
page appears. Note that the META tags for author and description are there, just
as you entered them.

5. Copy and paste the META tag for
your Web page’s description into the HTML source. (You should now have two
identical DESCRIPTION lines.) In the second line, change “description” to
“keyword”. Then change the words after “content=” to the keywords you want to
associate with your Web page for search engines.

Editing a copy of existing HTML is often much
easier than creating new HTML code yourself. Even the most minor typo in HTML
code can cause big problems, so re-using existing code is often a very good
starting point.

6. Go back to the normal viewing mode by clicking the Normal
tab, or by choosing View –> Normal Edit Mode.

content of your Web page appears, with HTML tags hidden.

Save your document and exit Composer.

Your Web page
now has appropriate META tags.