HTML META for Search Engines

When search engines such as Inktomi index and display information from your web page, they use two types of <META ...> tags: KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION.

NAME allows you to sneak a few extra words into your web page for the search engine to index. For example, if your page has a big picture of a pumpkin, but does not actually have the word "pumpkin" in it, you might use this <META ...> tag:

<META NAME=KEYWORDS CONTENT="pumpkin pumpkins Halloween squash">

When someone does a search on one of these words, your page will be in the listing. KEYWORDS also increases you "score" in the search. When someone enters a search, the search engine tries to figure out which pages seem most relevent to that search, and lists those first. One of the scoring criteria is <META ...> keywords. If the search words are in the keywords, the page gets a higher score. This is a good way to increase your page's visibility a little. Unfortunately, this has led to the practice of "spamdexxing", putting many repititions of the same word in <META ...> keywords. The search engines now use special algorithms to detect spamdexxing pages and won't index those pages.

<META NAME=DESCRIPTION CONTENT="..."> designates the text to display when the search engine returns information about your page. If no description is given, the search engines usually return the the first 175 or so characters of the page, not counting the HTML tags. For example, consider a page that starts off like this:

Any Domain Corporation

31425 West Marina Street, San Jose, CA 12345
(818) 123-4567, info@anydomain.com

Any Domain Corporation is one of the leading companies in the industry, offering municipalities an array of recycling and waste disposal options unparralled by anyone else. With capabilities ranging from street collection to refuse differentiation, RSC can bring a new definition of municipal waste reduction to your home town.

If there is no <META ...> description, the search engine will display something like this:
Any Domain Corporation
31425 West Marina Street, San Jose, CA 12345 (818) 123-4567, info@anydomain.com Any Domain Corporation is one of the leading companies in the industry, offering municipalities an array of recycling
However, if you have a <META ...> description like this:

<META NAME=DESCRIPTION CONTENT="Any Domain Corporation is a leading recycling and waste 
management company providing creative waste handling services for communities across the USA.">

then the search engine returns a much cleaner description:

Any Domain Corporation
Any Domain Corporation is a leading recycling and waste management company providing creative waste handling services for communities across the USA.
Although the CONTENT attribute can technically hold up to 1024 characters (as can any attribute value), the search engines only display approximately the first 175 characters (depending on spacing) so be sure to keep your description within that limit.

META for Creating HTTP Headers >