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HTML Meta Tags

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HTML lets you specify metadata - information about a document rather than document content -in a variety of ways. The META element can be used to include name/value pairs describing properties of the HTML document, such as author, Expiry Date, a list of key words, author etc.

The <meta> tag is an empty element and so does not have a closing tag, rather, <meta> tags carry information within attributes, so you need a forward slash character at the end of the element.

Metadata provided by using meta tag is a very important part of the web. It can assist search engines in finding the best match when a user performs a search. Search engines will often look at any metadata attached to a page - especially keywords - and rank it higher than another page with less relevant metadata, or with no metadata at all.

Adding Meta Tags to Your Documents:

You can add metadata to your web pages by placing <meta> tags between the <head> and </head> tags. The can include the following attributes:

AttributeDescription
NameName for the property. Can be anything. Examples include, keywords, description, author, revised, generator etc.
contentSpecifies the property's value.
schemeSpecifies a scheme to use to interpret the property's value (as declared in the content attribute).
http-equivUsed for http response message headers. For example http-equiv can be used to refresh the page or to set a cookie. Values include content-type, expires, refresh and set-cookie.

NOTE: Core attributes for all the elements are discussed in next chapter.

Meta Tag Examples:

Let's see few important usage of Meta Tags.

Specifying Keywords:

We specify keywords which will be used by the search engine to search a web page. So using following tag you can specify important keywords related to your page.

<head>
<meta name="keywords" content="HTML, meta tags, metadata" />
</head>

Document Description:

This is again important information and many search engine use this information as well while searching a web page. So you should give an appropriate description of the page.

<head>
<meta name="description" content="Learn about Meta Tags." />
</head>

Document Revision date:

This information tells about last time the document was updated.

<head>
<meta name="revised" content="Tutorialspoint, 6/12/2006" />
</head>

Document Refreshing:

You can specify a duration after which your web page will keep refreshing. If you want your page keep refreshing after every 10 seconds then use the following syntax.

<head>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10" />
</head>

Page Redirection:

You can specify a page redirection using Meta Tag. Following is an example of redirecting current page to another page. You can specify a duration after which page will be redirected.

<head>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" 
         content="10; url=http://www.tutorialspoint.com" />
</head>

If you don't provide a duration then page will be redirected immediately.

Setting Cookies:

You can use Meta Tag to store cookies on client side later information can be used by then Web Server to track a site visitor.

<head>
<meta http-equiv="cookie" content="userid=xyz;
         expires=Wednesday, 08-Aug-00 23:59:59 GMT; />
</head>

If you do not include the expiration date and time, the cookie is considered a session cookie and will be deleted when the user exits the browser.

Check PHP and Cookies tutorial for a complete detail on Cookies.

Setting Author Name:

You can set an author name in a web page using Meta Tag. See an example below:

<head>
<meta name="author" content="Mahnaz Mohtashim" />
</head>

If you do not include the expiration date and time, the cookie is considered a session cookie and will be deleted when the user exits the browser.

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