Supplement: Meta Tags

Meta tags are information entered into the < HEAD> area of an HTML document They do not display in the browser window. Rather, they give instructions to the browser and allow some degree of control over how your pages are indexed by search engines. Meta tags can also allow the voluntary rating of sites for the benefit of filtering software for adult content such as Surf Watch.

For more information see Search Engine Watch on "How to Use Meta Tags"


A sentence of 20 words or less that describes your site. This is what will be displayed in the search results, by those search engines that recognize it. This is an important tag, as without it, sites such as Yahoo may just use the first 20 words it finds on your page, which may look silly if it's your navigation bar, for example. Give the user a reason to click through to your site by describing it well.

<META NAME="description" CONTENT="A description of the breed characteristics of the purebred bloodhound, with advice to new owners and links to other bloodhound sites.">


A list of up to 100 keywords, separated by commas, that will be used by many search engines to index your site. Warning - repeating words or misrepresenting the site in order to attrack more "hits" may trigger "anti-spam" rejections by some search engines and even cause them to drop you from their listing altogether. The widespread misuse of this tag has caused many of the crawlers, including Google's, to ignore it altogether. If you do use it, be sure that any keywords you include are also in the text of your document.

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="bloodhounds, search and rescue, dogs">



If you don't want a particular page or group of pages included in search results, NOINDEX prevents indexing, NOFOLLOW stops them from following the links on the page.

The following tags are often inserted by web authoring software and can be left in place or savely deleted.

Page generator:

Most HTML authoring tools will advertise themselves in the header area. It appears to be a marketing analysis tool and may be safely deleted.

<META NAME="Generator" CONTENT="FrontPage">


<META NAME="author" CONTENT="Barbara Meyer">


<META NAME="copyright" CONTENT="Copyright 2000 Barbara Meyer"

Another Meta tag - the HTTP-EQUIV attribute for dynamic documents or redirection:

The "HTTP-EQUIV = refresh" attribute is a special case of "client pull" in that it instructs the browser to jump automatically to another document on the web or to "refresh" itself by going back to the server and requesting an updated copy of itself - in other words, "pull" a new document from the server. This is useful for cases when you move a site or in circumstances where you want the user to see the latest copy of a page. It also can be used to create a "slide show" of your site.

<META HTTP-EQUIV = "refresh" content = 5>
Page will reload in 5 seconds

<META HTTP-EQUIV = "refresh" content = "5; url =">
Page will jump to indicated URL in 5 seconds.
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© 2003 - E. Barbara Meyer - EdTech Center - Life Sciences - University of Illinois AT Urbana-Champaign USA