Today we can find numerous websites on the net and each day more and more portals appear there. It seems logical to suppose that a common user can’t keep track of each website, therefore, he/she can’t do without search engines.
All websites can compete to be displayed in the first lines of search results, by using special tools and algorithms. And here so-called meta tags play a great role and we’ll talk about them further.
What is a meta tag?
Meta tags are special parts of software code that can give search bots data on a web page. They are seen not on a page but in software code only.
Actually, they are descriptors of a web page, that help search engines transfer information on the actual content of a certain website. They also give browser information on how to display content to users.
They are not mandatory but all modern search engines use them to analyze additional data on web pages. They also use them to rank and display parts of the content in search results and sometimes they may even ignore current meta tags.
What attributes do meta tags have?
The main task of meta tags is to thoroughly describe the content that is present on a website (this greatly simplifies software testing services on promoting websites and adding content to them). It seems logical to suppose that these elements are located inside the HTML structure, in the head section, not in the body section.
They commonly contain the following attributes:
- name — gives a name to metadata;
- content — the metadata;
- http-equiv — gives us information that these metadata can interact with web browsers, not with search engines.
A simple example:
<meta name=”description” content=”content of a test page”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”a list of keywords”>
<meta http-equiv=”pragma” content=”no-cache”>
<meta name=”author” content=”test”>
<meta name=”copyright” content=”test page”>
Most used meta tags
There are dozens of common meta tags but only few of them are commonly used.
A title tag is text that can be located in the top part of a selected web browser. Search bots see this text as a header of a certain web page.
These tags have a big influence on a search rate and are considered the only ones that are displayed to a user of a website.
Every title is important since it helps users to instantly understand the results received and their actual relevance to a certain request.
Sometimes it’s basic information, used for making decisions on what result we should click on, therefore, it’s important to use only proper titles on a website.
To test the efficiency of a selected tag, we can use Google Search Console or Yandex.Webmaster. We should pay attention to such indicators as clickability and a position in search results.
Meta description is a brief description of a selected web page. It’s short passages of text that should inform a user of the content of a page and tell a search bot if this content is relevant or not.
A charset tag is used by a web browser to select a code page that can set necessary correspondence between code of special symbols and the way they are displayed on a user’s screen. If we use an incorrect charset, a user won’t be able to read such text.
If a website doesn’t contain this meta tag, a web browser will select a type of charset itself, by analyzing a type of symbols that are currently used.
Testing meta tags
Meta tag inspecting programs are very useful during analyzing metadata on web pages since they help to see if meta tags are on a website and whether they are located in a proper place or not.
There are several methods to test meta tags:
- Analyze source software code manually, by using settings of a selected web browser;
- Use unique extensions for web browsers. Today there are numerous free plugins that greatly simplify the task of getting information on metadata. They can not only calculate a total number of metadata but also give detailed analyses on different parameters;
- Bookmarklet script. It’s a special script, displayed in a form of a simple bookmark in a web browser and it’s automatically launched after clicking on it. A user just needs to drag a necessary link to the Tools field and click on it. And all meta tags that are present on a current page will be displayed on a screen.
- Use special software, for example, RDS API. It’s a special service used for performing integrated testing of all website’s pages. There are also programs that help to extract metadata from photos and it’s quite useful when you need to test if an image is fake or not.
To conclude, we’d like to admit that all search engines use metadata from meta tags to have a systematic understanding of additional information on web pages. They can use such data for ranking, displaying certain parts in search results on so on.
Sometimes meta tags don’t affect the general displaying of a web page but they display current web indexes of a selected resource and also hidden content of a certain page.