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Using META Tags

In previous years, as the number of pages and the amount of information on the World Wide Web continued to grow, it had become very important to use META tags in Web pages. META tags were very useful to search engines (like AltaVista) to index a site and, in turn, help people find that site. Unfortunately, this practice has been discontinued by popular, modern search engines (like Google).

Provided is a short tutorial on META tags and some examples on their use. If necessary, please contact the Web Content Manager at for further information on the subject. What is a META tag?

A META tag is is an HTML tag that contains information that is passed to any browser accessing the page, but is not displayed on the page. They often contain information about the page such as description, keywords, expiration date, or the name of the program used to create the page.

This tutorial will only be dealing with the “description” and “keyword” META tag. How does it work?

Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, AltaVista, send out little programs, called spiders, to scan, spider, all the pages on the Web. The URL of the page is saved along with certain other information such as a description of the page and keywords for that page.

In the absence of other information, the search engine will usually choose keywords out of the words used in the text of the page and will make the first couple of lines the description of that page. When a user conducts a search their keywords are compared to those in the database. URLs that match are displayed along with the description.

META tags allow Webmasters to control the information that is associated with their URL in the search engine. Webmasters can name keywords that will be used in addition to the text of the page and can write their own description. The details

A META tag looks much like any HTML tag. Example: <meta name=“description” content=“How to use META tags to index a Web page.”> <meta name=“keywords” content=“META, Web page, robots”>

The “name” attribute must be used to indicate which type of META tag it is. The “content” attribute contains the information that will actually be saved by the search engine. Use a separate META tag for your page's description and keywords. Use commas to separate your list of keywords. AltaVista will index the description and keywords up to a limit of 1,024 characters.

NOTE: In this example, a search on “robots” and “URL” would both give a positive result even though URL is used only in the text of this page and (until this paragraph) robots is used only in the META tag. How to use META tags?

META tags are used in the head of the HTML page. So place your META tag like this:

<title>Page Title</title>
<meta name="description" content="How to use META tags to index a Web page.">
<meta name="keywords" content="META, Web page, robots">
Web page content

Additional Information

Contact the Web Content Manager for additional information about using META tags on SUNY Brockport Web pages. (

Additional information is also available on the Web at:

web/meta_tags.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/02 20:33 by lrath