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It’s Better to Meta

18th February 2014

Sometimes so much energy is put into the <body> tag of a site, that the little one above it (the <head>) can be overlooked. Mainly because it’s work is behind the scenes. Invisible.

But no more!

It’s time for the <head> to shine, and one way to make your site grab onto the throat of that thing we call the World Wide Web, is to get the most we can out of that little element… the <meta>

This article aims to outline some of the well-known and some of the less-well-known metas out there and how they can help your website get noticed. For this I’ve created a – for now – fictional company imaginatively titled “Paul’s Woods”. It’s a top forestry company that is brilliant at anything to do with trees and forests.

Let’s start out by looking at the main tags.

Meaningful content

The <title> Tag is the only tag a webpage actually needs. Yet, often it’s under used or, even worse, left blank. Don’t. Ever. Leave this blank. Thank you.

You can put the Company name in this, or you can put the page name. Just make sure it’s short, but meaningful.

<title>Paul’s Woods Forestry Experts</title>
<meta name=“description” content=“Leading forestry organisation based in Northern Ireland with expertise in all varieties of trees, woodlands and forest wildlife”>

Keywords are ignored by Google. This may change in the future but for now we can assume that these are redundant. It’s much better to focus your energy on meaningful content and good descriptions.

Who made the site.

<meta name=“author” content=“Paul Woods”>

This is useful, but maybe a better use of this would be to make a link to the author’s webpage, google plus, or twitter page. So this would become a link element with a rel=“author”.

<link rel=“author” href=“http://twitter.com/paleweasel”>

You might also want to include the company who published it. In this case it might be a Google+ page…
<link rel=“publisher” href=“https://plus.google.com/12345678987654321”>

Copyright information is also useful.
<meta name=“Copyright” content=“Copyright Pauls Woods Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.”>

Location

Your site, if it’s a company or an organisation would likely have a location. For this we can use Geo meta tags. At present Google does not make use of these. It’s better in their case to use their Google Places facility. Understandably they want to avoid bogus data. Bing, however to make use of the Geo tags, so there’s no harm in rewarding their users when they’re looking for your site.

Geo meta tags look like the following:

<meta name=“geo.position” content="52.38794;-6.534474”>
<meta name=“geo.placename” content=“Paul’s Woods, 4 Forest Way, Belfast, N Ireland”>
<meta name=“geo.region” content=“GB”>
<meta name=“ICBM” content=“52.38794,-6.534474”>

The numbers are the latitude and longitude values which you can grab from the likes of Google maps. ICBM stands for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile address, is nothing to do with missiles but used in geotagging pages.

Social Media

Now, what about social media? Can they make use of meta tags? They sure can. In the last couple of years, Facebook has been encouraging folk to make use of it’sOpenGraph technology. Twitter has also made use of this and added its own bits and pieces. In short they make linking to your webpage a much more pleasurable experience, since you can be picky about how it appears on a Facebook Newsfeed or a Twitter feed.

<meta content="summary">
<meta content=“@paulswoods">
<meta content="@paleweasel">
<meta property="og:title" content=“Paul’s Woods">
<meta property="og:description" content="Leading forestry organisation based in Northern Ireland with expertise in all varieties of trees, woodlands and forest wildlife">
<meta property="og:type" content="place">
<meta property="og:image" content="http://www.paulswoods.com/images/logo.png">
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.paulswoods.com">
<meta property="og:site_name" content=“Paul’s Woods">
<meta property="twitter:domain" content=“paulswoods">
<meta property="fb:admins" content="paul.woods25">
<meta property="place:location:latitude" content="52.38794">
<meta property="place:location:longitude" content="-6.534474”>

This may look like a lot, but with a good CMS this shouldn’t be a problem to maintain. With many of these meta tags you can either make them site-wide or have them change for individual pages.

There are still more meta tags that you can make use of.

  • charset
  • viewport
  • humans.txt
  • robots.txt

Don’t ignore what’s in the head of a webpage. It’s difficult to see the effects of this hard work sometimes, since on the most part it’s invisible. But the internet today is about sharable content. A business no longer lives in one place.

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on 18th February 2014