Over the years, Meta tags have become quite misunderstood and are often used incorrectly on the Internet. I first wrote this document back in 2004 for the purpose of providing a brief explanation and breakdown of the most widely used Meta tags, as well as recommendations regarding the ones you should shouldn’t use for your website. Fast forward to today and webmasters still have the same questions regarding meta tags. Done correctly, Meta tags can be a valuable onsite optimization tool and can even have a positive effect of conversion rates.
What are Meta tags? We are asked this question all the time. Meta tags are snippets of informational code that have been located between your tags that are a part of the HTML document you’ve generated.
There are two known styles/attributes that you’ll see for Meta tags. These are:
In the mid 90s, Meta tags were developed to assist with the rapid growth of web pages. In the late 90’s there was a major occurrence. Many Webmasters, generally those who ran adult-orientated websites, began to abuse the use of Keyword Meta tags. Many unrelated keywords were placed on their sites in the Meta tag section, causing their pornographic sites to begin appearing in search results unrelated to topics such as “Smithsonian”.
Eventually the major search engines began discontinuing the use of Meta tags as major criteria for listing sites. Google had always ignored the use of Meta tags, and currently will only index Google Meta Tags. There are several searches that do read Meta tags in their own way. I have another article on Google Tags if you are looking for information specific to Google.