The HTML META TagThis document provides instructions on how to use the HTML META tag to help search engines better index your Web documents. It also provides specific instructions for using the META tag with the AltaVista Search utility. AltaVista is the search engine used at Penn to manage, search, and retrieve information across its Web servers. Web developers who do not want their documents indexed via the AltaVista Search utility should consult Excluding Directories from AltaVista Search. Presently, AltaVista does not support the META ROBOTS tag.
Note: Web developers should be familiar with the factors that influence how AltaVista ranks documents, and how to create Web documents that take advantage of this feature. See How AltaVista Ranks Search Results for more information.
What Is a META Tag?The META tag is primarily used to help search engines better index a document by supplying additional information about the document. The types of additional information that META tags can provide include an author's name, a description or short abstract of a document, or a set of keywords for indexing a document. Providing this type of additional information should increase the chance that users will find your documents -- the information they want -- on the Web. In addition to providing indexing information, META tags can also be used to refresh a Web page or to redirect a user from one Web page to another.
Not all search engines use the META tag. For example, AltaVista and InfoSeek use META tags for indexing but Excite does not. Because Penn uses the AltaVista search utility, document developers are encouraged to use META tags to improve the retrieval of their documents by the Penn community.
Formatting the META TagThe META tag is part of the header information of an HTML document. It has a start tag but does not have a corresponding end tag. The tag is placed after the TITLE end tag; and more than one META tag can be used within a document, depending on the type of information that you want to provide.
The META tag is formatted as a name/value pair, where NAME or HTTP-EQUIV identifies the name or property and CONTENT identifies the property value. You can use NAME and HTTP-EQUIV interchangeably. (When using NAME, the interpretation of the attribute is left up to the browser; whereas the HTTP protocol will interpret HTTP-EQUIV attributes.)
META Tag AttributesSeveral attributes can be used within the META tag. This document provides examples for the DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDS attributes. For a list of other META tag attributes and how you can use them, see A Dictionary of HTML META Tags.
Note: AltaVista will display up to 1,024 characters for a DESCRIPTION. This number includes the the text between the TITLE start and end tags and the text you've written for the DESCRIPTION attribute.
Penn Museum Library - Services for Patrons with Disabilities Museum Library - Services for Patrons with Disabilities. It is the mission of the University of Pennsylvania Library to provide equal access to... http://www.library.upenn.edu/museum/museum-disabilities.html - size 2K - 11 Sep 97The actual source code for the document is shown below. Note that AltaVista has counted and subsequently shown on the "Search Results" page the "first few lines" of the document which is comprised of the text for the TITLE tag, the text for the H2 tag, and the first line of the paragraph.
<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>Penn Museum Library - Services for Patrons with Disabilities</TITLE> <!-- Author: Lisa Horowitz --> <!-- Last Revision: 11/05/96 --> </HEAD> <BODY bgcolor="#ffffff"> <H1><img src="/img/banner.gif" alt="Penn Library"></H1> <H2><strong>Museum Library - Services for Patrons with Disabilities</strong></h2> <hr> It is the mission of the University of Pennsylvania Library to provide equal access to information for all Penn students, faculty and staff. The Library has made provisions to assist patrons with disabilities in accessing, retrieving and using library materials. <P>KEYWORDS
The KEYWORDS attribute provides additional keywords to describe the content or subject of your document. The search engine will use these keywords in addition to the rest of the keywords that it automatically indexes for your document. When formatting this section, put your most important keywords first, use a comma to separate each keyword, and place the list of keywords in double quotes.
Note: AltaVista will allow a maximum of 1,024 characters to be entered as keywords. In selecting keywords, be aware of how AltaVista treats queries entered in uppercase and lowercase letters (see the AltaVista online help) and keep in mind how your users will want to search and retrieve information. See Determining Keywords for Web Documents for more information.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
Comments & Questions