What is the deal with Meta Tags?
Search Engine Optimizers often have two different views when it comes to meta tags. One this is unanimous meta tags have definitely been devalued for use in most major search engines but you will find they are still being used as the description often times when your site is listed in the search results.
Meta tags were started back in the early 90's when the Internet was just getting its brand new legs and they were used to help the search engines organize the growing number of web pages. This was an easy way to get your site indexed and listed high.
Soon after unethical webmasters started to abuse the meta tag by either spamming the page full of keywords or sometimes even made different websites appear in the results for a completely different keyword. Gambling sites would stuff their meta tags with more commonly used phrases in order to bring their sites to the first page and trick the search engine and moreover the user.
Now obviously, most search engines have discontinued the use of meta tags for organizing their search results. Algorithms have become much more technologically advanced and they use a number of other methods for indexing and sorting. The big question is if they are no longer viewed as a helpful tag, why do some SEO's still use them?
Meta tags come in a multitude of different names and uses, so which ones do you use? There are four that I often find myself using when I am optimizing a site. They are as follows:
This tag is still widely supported and it simply tells the search bots to either follow the URL through or you can ask them not to index certain parts of your site for aspects that may not be relevant to your actual site.
My favorite tag. This is your first impression, if you don't have this tag search engines will just tag clips of your index page including the keyword that was being searched for by the surfer. First impressions often is the difference between a sale or no sale.
A controversial meta tag, some use it, some don't. I still thinks it holds a bit of value if you keep it simple. Don't add more than 20 or so keywords, as I think it does increase your on-page keyword density.
Meta Content Type:
This is recommended because you may find that if you do not have this tag it could cause display problems.
Now, most search engines don't use the meta tags as they did in the early nineties, but as I explained you can still use them for a variety of other reasons. There is of course a number of opinions on this matter: Some SEO firms are strong believers in the meta tag and other firms are strongly against it.
In conclusion, my opinion is that meta tags can be used for a number of alternative reasons and still offer you a great place to sell your stuff.
I always will recommend the use of at least a small number of Meta Tags, and if used correctly they will greatly improve your chances of more sales and higher rankings.