Meta elements are the HTML or XHTML <meta … > element used to provide structured metadata about a Web page. These Meta elements can be used to specify the page description, keywords and any other metadata not provided through the other head elements and attributes. The information inside the meta tags will not be displayed by the internet browser. Instead, the information inside meta tags is meant to be read by machines, or more specifically, the search engines.
Many people used to fill up the meta description and keyword of their webpages with paragraphs of keywords and think that it will greatly help their search engine rankings. But does it really work? Let us examine these meta elements closely.
Meta Description tag: This tag allows you to write a short description about the webpage. It is not used to determine the search engine rankings of your webpage. But please do not ignore this tag. Whenever your webpage is displayed on the search engine results, the content inside this tag will be displayed under the title of your webpage. So it is very important to carefully craft the content of the meta description tag, since google only display 150 to 160 characters of this tag in its search ranking result, and this information will actually determine whether your target audience would feel interested enough to click through to your webpage.
Meta Keyword tag: This tag used to be an important way of telling the search engines about the keywords that the webpage is associated to, and thus played an important part in search engine rankings. However, due to excessive spamming by SEO personnels and webmasters to stuff hundreds of irrelevant keywords into this tag, it is no longer considered by google.
There are some more meta tags around but the above two are the most commonly used (and commonly spammed) ones. Search engines nowadays are becoming more intelligent and more focus is being placed on the webpage content and their readabilities. Spamming of meta tag content is no longer a viable mean in SEO.