What Are Custom Meta Tags?

by Debra Rigas

Meta tags are terms, phrases and code words set into the hidden part of Web pages. Meta tags theoretically allow search engines to find and rank your website efficiently, so it doesn't end up on page 50,000 of an Internet search. Because most webmasters use the meta tag, some feel they are overused and have less value. However, they do seem to serve a purpose, and it can't hurt to put them into play if you want to draw people to your business or personal website. Some Internet sites offer Web-generated tags based on your site's content, but most people hand-select and enter their own. Custom meta tags simply are words and descriptions that best reflect your site's content and purpose.

SEO Basics

Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to composing and implementing content directly into a website or using keywords that help the search engines sort, filter, find and lock onto the site. Savvy webmasters, designers, programmers and tech teams will structure the site by writing keywords into the content and in the meta tags. The keywords tag might look like this for a writer: <meta name="keywords" content="name, books, author, subject matter, coaching, writer, editing, title of book"> A florist would have a custom meta tag for keywords that included flowers, floral, design, weddings, arrangements, events, her city and so forth.

Description Tags

A custom description meta tag looks like this: <meta name="description" content="Johanna Clark provides floral services for weddings and events in Rome, Georgia"> The tag goes directly below or above the keywords tag. Usually these are select words that describe a business or service or what kind of content can be found within the website. Meta tags are discouraged on all sub-pages.

Site Details

Meta tags can include details about whose site it is, who designed or wrote the content (often different people) and what language or audience (usually "general") is preferred. This helps weed out any Italian, Chinese or other non-English speaking searchers from getting to your site instead of ones more suitable. In the U.K., the proper tag is: <meta name="language" content="en-uk">. An author tag for the florist would be: <meta name="author" content="Neils Alterman">. An owner tag would be: <meta name="owner" content="Johanna Clark">, if Johanna Clark owns the business and pays the monthly or annual fees to a website host.

Other Tags Used

Additional meta tags can indicate the character set used on the site and instructions for search engine robots to come back and check the site to re-index it. If you want that done for your site once a month, the proper tag would be <meta name="revisit-after" content="30">. Change the re-index time to serve your needs.

About the Author

Debra J. Rigas, a professional writing coach, has been a writer and editor since 1975. She is the author of the nonfiction book "Everyone's A Guru" and has edited novels ("The Woman Pope") and worked in arts and sciences as a filmmaker, boat captain, landscaper, counselor, theater administrator and licensed midwife.

Photo Credits

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