The HTML Meta Tags help to keep the web pages updated in order to make them easier to locate and also prevents the pages from being framed. They are very useful for web developers and are used to identify creator of the page, keywords and description of the page. The two types of Meta Tags :
(1) HTTP – EQUIV and (2) Meta Tags with a NAME attribute. The HTTP headers are usually equivalent of Meta HTTP – EQUIV Tag. When a web browser requests for a document from the web server and clicks on a link for the page, the web server receives the browser’s request via HTTP. As soon as the web server has ensured that the requested page is indeed present, it generates an HTTP response. The initial data to that response is known as “HTTP Header Block”. The header provides the web browser with information that may be useful for displaying a particular document.
Like the normal headers the Meta HTTP Equivalent Tags control or direct the actions of web browsers and can further refine the information provided by the headers. Sometimes, the web servers translate HTTP EQUIV Tags into actual HTTP headers so that the web browser can locate them as manual headers. The Meta Tags with a “NAME” attribute are used in those Meta Tags that do not relate to normal HTTP headers. There is still a bone of contention amongst web developers since some search engine agents interpret the tags containing keyword attribute as “Name” or “HTTP – EQUIV”. Implementing Meta Tags in the web pages inform the viewers when that particular page had been updated. It also informs readers not to Cache Files and if the need arises, they could request for the new version of the page. Additionally, web browsers can learn about the time and date when the document is slated to “expire”.
While using “Netscape Navigator”, a request for the document whose time has “expired” will initiate a new network request for that particular document. Dates must be in the RFC 850 format. At times, Meta Tags are used together to keep the website owners’ content current. Meta Keyword Tag and Meta Description Tag attributes allow search engines to easily index the website owners’ web pages. Keywords along with description of the website specifically highlight the page details whereas the keyword attribute informs the search engines which keywords to use. Those using the Meta Description attribute are able to add their own description for the web page. Meta Tags are normally placed in the head of HTML document and this method is extremely important for framed pages. Meta Tags should not be too long neither too short as too short makes them ineffective and too long is considered as Spam.
These provide information about a web page to search engine robots which enable the search engines to understand what the website is all about. The Meta Tags provide the information in a format that web crawlers understand. There are Meta Tags for page title, page description and page keyword. They not only classify websites but also control the manner in which a web robot indexes the site. These tags assist the web indexing robot in understanding the web content for assigning it a ranking in their database under specific search terms. A common use of a Meta Tag is to specify the keywords that a search engine uses to improve the quality of search results.