A Meta Tag is an element of web pages that is frequently called Meta elements. They are HTML or XHTML elements that provide structured Metadata about a web page, placed as tags in the head section of an HTML document, and specify page descriptions, keywords and other metadata that is not provided in the other head elements. These were originally developed to help search engines categorize the web pages, but now Met tags are generally used for the personal preferences of the website builders. While many search engines no longer recognize parts of the Met tags, many webmasters still include them for their own reasons. Met tags also have four different elements, though only one is a required attribute. The four elements are content, http-equiv, name, and scheme, with content being the one the requirement.
Originally, Meta tags were used in search engines to define what the page was about. When the Internet was in the early stages, Met tags were used to help place the web pages in the correct categories for efficient searches. In the 1990s, Met tags made it easy for those interested in search engine optimization to build the page rank of their websites, as entering the keywords in the Met tags was the best way to get a page to rank and rank well. People began abusing Met tags to spam and to build false page rankings for web pages that were poorly constructed. By the early 2000s, search engines had taken care of this by discontinuing Met tags for ranking. Keywords in the Met tags thereafter had no effect on search engine ranking, preventing the use of Met tags for unscrupulous spamdexing and circumvention of search engine algorithms.
There are different Met tag attributes that are used that are still recognized though by search engines that are checking to decide where a particular page should rank. These Metatarsi control not only the page, but whether the page is actually looked at or not by the search engine spider. Additional Met tags that are used by webmasters include:
The Meta Tag Description Attribute: A tag that has information about the page itself. This Meta Tag provides concise, accurate data about the web page and what it directly pertains to.
The Meta Tag Robots Attribute: This tag is very important to search engine crawling. The Robots.txt attribute is a command that tells a search engine spider whether to index the page or not. This can keep information on a website that is not relevant to the target keywords from coming up in search results.
The Meta Tag Refresh: The Meta refresh is a Meta tag that can be used to instruct the web browser to automatically refresh the chosen website or web page after a pre-determined amount of time. It can also redirect a user to a different URL.
While Meta tags are a part of all web pages, not all Meta tags are used by search engines. Keyword tags are no longer utilized, but that does not mean that Met tags are obsolete, and webmasters continue to use them to keep everything up to date.