Meta tags are HTML tags designed to provide structured metadata about a web page. As a rule, elements
<meta> are specified in the header
<head> of an HTML document.
Due to the fact that meta tags have a purely service function and increase the size of the document, novice webmasters often prefer to ignore them. The presence of these tags is not mandatory, since they are not displayed on the page and are intended primarily for browsers and search engine robots. However, their presence is quite useful in some cases.
Meta tag structure:
<meta tag_type="tag_name" content="tag_value">
Meta tags are divided into two main types —
http-equiv browsers convert tags to the HTTP response header format and treat them as if they came directly from the server. Tags
name are responsible for textual information about the page, its author, and recommendations for search engines.
The Content-Language meta tag
The tag allows you to specify the language used in the document:
en-GB– English (United Kingdom)
en-US– English (USA)
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="ru" />
In HTML5, specifying the language is simplified:
Cache-Control meta tag
Defines the actions of the cache in relation to this document. Possible values:
public– the document is cached in all available caches
private– cached by the browser, not cached by the proxy server
no-cache– no caching (the browser and proxy server do not cache the document)
no-store– can be cached, but not saved in the archive
max-age=time, must-revalidate– indicates to the browser how many seconds to store the document in the cache
max-age=time, proxy-revalidate– specifies how many seconds to store the document in the cache for the proxy server
<meta http-equiv="Cache-Control" content="max-age=3600, must-revalidate" />
Content-Script-Type meta tag
Content-Style-Type meta tag
Specifies the language of the style sheet. The default value is
<meta http-equiv="Content-Style-Type" content="text/css">
Content-Type meta tag
It is used to specify the document type (attribute
content) and can be extended by specifying the page encoding (attribute
Using this tag requires two conditions to be met:
- the character encoding of the text must match the encoding specified in the tag;
- the server must not change the text encoding when processing a browser request. If the server changes the text encoding, it must correct or remove the Content-Type meta tag.
If you do not comply with these conditions, you may not be able to read the document without making additional browser settings.
Possible encoding types:
ISO-8859-1– Latin-1-for most Western European languages;
Windows-1251– Cyrillic alphabet (Windows);
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
In HTML5, specifying the encoding is simplified:
The Expires meta tag
Allows you to manage document caching in the browser. If the date specified in the tag has passed, then the browser should make a second network request, and not use the cached copy. If you initially specify an elapsed date, the document will not be cached. Some search robots may refuse to index a document with an outdated date. The date must be specified in the [RFC850] standard.
<meta http-equiv="Expires" content="Wed, 26 Feb 1999 08:21:57 GMT">
The PICS-Label meta tag
PICS – (English Platform — Independent Content rating Scheme Label) – specifies the content of a document with the purpose of restricting access (sex, violence), which is configured separately in each browser.
Pragma meta tag
Allows the document creator to control its caching. The “no-cache” value prohibits caching the document. This tag is primarily intended for documents generated as a result of the script.
<meta http-equiv="Pragma" content="no-cache">
The Refresh meta tag
Allows you to determine the time delay (in seconds) after which the browser automatically updates the document or redirects to the page specified in the url value.
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="5; url=http://site.com/">
Set-Cookie meta tag
Allows you to set up cookies in your browser.
It has the following attributes::
NAME– name of the cookie. This attribute cannot contain newline characters, spaces, tabs, or semicolons;
EXPIRES– time when cookies are stored. After the specified date (date format: “Wdy, DD-Mon-YYYY HH:MM:SS GMT”), the cookie expires. If this attribute is not specified, the cookie is stored for one session, i.e. until the browser is closed;
DOMAIN– the domain for which the cookie value is set;
PATH– allows you to specify a subset of documents located in different directories that are affected by cookies. For example, if the PATH=/dir attribute is set, the cookie will apply to all files and directories starting with the characters “dir” (/dir/, /directory/, dir.htm, directory.html). If this attribute is omitted, the cookie value applies only to documents in the directory where the current document is located;
SECURE– specifies that cookie information should be sent over the HTTPS protocol (using SSL). If this attribute is omitted, cookie information will be sent over the HTTP protocol.
<meta http-equiv="Set-Cookie" content="NAME=cookexample; EXPIRES=Monday, 22-FEB-02 21:11:51 GMT; DOMAIN=www.site.com; PATH=/; SECURE">
Window-target meta tag
Defines the window of the current page. This meta tag does not apply to all browsers.
- _blank – documents will open in a new window
- _parent – documents will open in the parent window
- _top – loading the entire window
- _self – opens the document in the current window
<meta http-equiv="Window-target" content="_self">
The Author meta tag
Allows you to specify the author of the document. It can contain an additional “lang” attribute that allows you to specify the language used when writing the property value.
<meta name="Author" content="Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov" />
<meta name="Author" lang="ru" content="ivan Ivanovich Ivanov" />
Copyright meta tag
Allows you to specify the copyright holder for the document. It can contain an additional “lang” attribute that allows you to specify the language used when writing the property value.
<meta name="Copyright" content="Horns and Hooves LLC" />
<meta name="Copyright" lang="ru" content="Horns and Hooves LLC" />
Description meta tag
Allows you to specify a short description for the document. It is used by search engines for ranking documents, as well as for creating snippets in search results.
<meta name="description" content="A big article about what meta tags are and how to use them" />
Document-state meta tag
It is used for managing document indexing by search robots. It can have two attributes:
Static– the document does not change, so it does not require indexing in the future;
Dynamic– the document changes periodically.
If this meta tag is omitted, it is considered the default value
<meta name="Document-state" content="Dynamic">
Generator meta tag
It is used by developers of programs for editing web pages or CMS for self-promotion purposes. Developers of such programs usually specified the name of their product as the tag value. For the site owner, these tags do not carry a payload, i.e. they are useless.
<meta name="generator" content="Joomla! 1.x - Open Source Content Management" />
Keywords meta tag
Used to specify the keywords used in the document. If the document is written in multiple languages, you can use multiple Keywords meta tags with the language specified using the attribute
<meta name="Keywords" lang= ru" content="meta tags, tags, tags, metadata">
<meta name="Keywords" lang="en-us" content="metatags, meta, tags">
Resource-type meta tag
Describes a property or state of the document. If the value of this meta tag differs from the value of “Document”, then the document will not be indexed by search engines. The absence of this meta tag is similar to its presence with the value “Document”.
- Random text
<meta name="Resource-type" content="Document">
Revisit meta tag
Allows you to indicate to search engine robots how often (measured in knocks) it is desirable to index a document.
<meta name="Revisit" content="7">
Robots meta tag
Allows you to enable or disable indexing, as well as click on links in the document.
Tag values can be as follows:
all– indexing and clicking on links of this document is allowed;
index– the page is allowed for indexing;
noindex– the page is not allowed to be indexed;
follow– it is allowed to click on hyperlinks located on this page;
nofollow– it is forbidden to click on hyperlinks located on this page;
index, follow– same as the all value;
none– indexing and clicking on links in this document is prohibited;
noindex, nofollow– same as the none value.
The absence of the Robots meta tag is similar to its presence with a value
The tag takes precedence over the control directives specified in the file robots.txt.
<meta name="Robots" content="all">
Viewport meta tag
Tells the browser exactly how to handle page sizes and change its scale. A meta tag
viewportcan have the following attributes, separated by commas::
width – width of the viewport.
The attribute value is a non-negative integer between 200 and 10000 pixels, or the device-width constant, which sets the page width according to the screen size.
If this value is omitted, it is set by default – in mobile Safari = 980px, Opera = 850px, Android WebKit = 800px, IE = 974px.
height – height of the viewport.
The attribute value is a non-negative integer between 233 and 10000 pixels, or the device-height constant, which sets the page height according to the screen size.
initial-scale – the initial page scale.
The attribute value is a number with a dot between 0.1 and 1.0. The value 1.0 defines a scale of 1:1, i.e. “do not scale”.
user-scalable – availability of page scaling by the user.
The attribute value is boolean ” yes ” (
1) – can be scaled, or “no” (
0) – cannot be scaled. By default, it is set to “yes”.
minimum-scale – the minimum scale of the viewport.
The attribute value is a number with a dot between 0.1 and 1.0. In the Safari mobile browser, the default value is 0.25. The value 1.0 defines a scale of 1:1, i.e. “do not scale”.
maximum-scale – the maximum scale of the viewport.
The attribute value is a number with a dot between 0.1 and 1.0 . In the default Safari mobile browser, 1.6. The value 1.0 defines a scale of 1:1, i.e. “do not scale”.
<meta name="Viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
Url Meta tag
It is used to indicate the main mirror of the site to search engine robots. After encountering this tag, the search engine robot should stop indexing the current document and click on the specified link.
<meta name="Url" content="http://site.ru/">
Many of these tags are not necessary, both from the point of view of the browser and from the point of view of search engines. However, the correct use of meta tags can improve the browser experience, as well as positively affect the ranking of your site in search engines.