A meta tag is a line of HTML coding that contains metadata about a webpage. The information in the tag doesn't change how the page looks; it won’t be seen by the website viewer, unless they are viewing your source code. There are two common types of meta tags — meta description tags and meta keywords tags.
Meta description tags describe, in some way, the webpage. For instance for this wiseGEEK article page, we might use “everything you want to know about meta tags.” The meta keywords tag lists other words that a visitor might be searching for, like meta tags, HTML and meta tags, tags, SEO.
Both types of tags are located in the heading section of your HTML code and usually below the title. You might have the following heading for your webpage:
<TITLE>How to Create a Meta Tag</TITLE>
<META name =“description” content=”Everything you want to know about Meta Tags”>
<META name =”keywords” content=”meta, meta tags, HTML and meta tags, tags, SEO”>
The purpose of these tags is to inform web crawlers about your page. They existed before search engines, but today, they primarily used in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Using them may help web crawlers more easily index your pages in search engines, but, not all web crawlers or robots pay attention to these tags anymore. Some still do though, and learning how to create a meta tag on each page may help promote greater visibility on certain search engines, and may increase the likelihood of your page coming up as a choice when people search under alternate but related names to your content.
Some web crawlers may ignore a meta description tag and substitute its own. This is true of some of the bigger search engines like Google®. Smaller search engines may specifically use your description meta tag as the page description, so be certain about what you put in there.
Content meta tags may also be ignored to a degree, especially if the words are not listed in your content. If you plan to optimize your search results, use any and all content tag words at least once on your page. These tags aren’t the only way to achieve a greater web presence. Using your main keyword several times is very important. People tend not to be fooled by keyword repetition. If your content isn’t well-written, accurate and engaging, repetition of a keyword and meta tag use alone is unlikely to have people returning to your website.