E-Commerce Fundamentals (X) - Meta tags explained - How to get higher ranking in Search Engines ?

Meta Tags are HTML codes which provide information on content of a webpage. They pass right information on the web-page to search engines so that the page is indexed under right category. We discussed the basics of meta tags in last issue. In this issue, we discuss how to create most important meta tags.

There are a number of meta tags that you can use in a HTML page. These are inserted between <title> and </title> tags of your HTML page. Following is a list of most important meta tags that you must use in your web-page, with examples, tips and tricks.

Title Tag

Strictly, Title tag is not considered a meta tag, but it has very strong bearing on search engine ranking. Browsers display Title tag at the top of screen.


<TITLE>Indian Handicraft - Marble Statues from Jaipur</TITLE>


1. Use top keyword first followed by subject description with more keywords.

2. Avoid hype (e.g. greatest, top, best etc.) Pack as many of your top keywords as possible into title tag.


1. To be considered spider-friendly, maximum length of title tag should not exceed 60 characters

Description Meta Tag

The Description Meta Tag is a summary of the content of the web-page.


<META NAME="description" CONTENT="A description of your website that has lots of keywords in it, and is about this long in length.">


Search engines often display the Description meta tag along with your title in their results. As the display space in search result is limited, make sure the first sentence of description tag is capable of capturing user attention and use the rest of the tag to elaborate further.


Insert important keywords from Title. To be considered spider-friendly, maximum length should not exceed 150 characters.

Keywords Meta Tag

The Keywords Meta Tag is a series of keywords that represents the content of your site. Search engines use the keywords found in Keyword tag as well in the text to categorize the web-page in search engine database. The algorithms used are proprietary and closely guarded secret.


<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="keyword keyword keyword">


1. Ensure your chosen keywords are relevant to your site and avoid excessive repetition as many search engines will penalize your rankings for attempting to abuse their system. Similar to the Description meta Tag, search engines give priority to the first few keywords. So focus on your main keywords and then elaborate further by using synonyms or other related words.

2. Arrange the keywords in decreasing sequence of importance, (i.e. put the most important keyword first, the least important last).

3. Use only keywords that you think people will type in to find your website. Remember to offer various ways of spelling your top keywords if there are several.


To be considered spider-friendly, make sure total length of keywords does not exceed 850 characters.

Robots META Tag

The Robots Meta Tag informs the spider pages to be indexed.


<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="index, follow">


If you like search engine spiders to follow your text links to other pages at your site, add this meta tag. If you prefer to prevent crawling and indexing of pages, simply type in "noindex" instead of "index, follow".

Normally you would like the spider to index as many pages of your web-site as possible - so use this meta tag wherever possible.

Traps in Meta Tags

Meta Tag Lawsuits

Can you get sued for your meta tags ? Danny Sullivan, editor of Searchenginewatch.com has listed the lawsuits in this context and precautions one needs to take. Here's one example.

Playboy sued two adult web site operators who spammed their pages with the word Playboy and Playmate hundreds of times. This helped them rise to the top of some search engine results for a search on "Playboy." The defendants were also using the terms Playboy and Playmate in the site names, the domain names and in their slogans.

The San Francisco federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the operators, deciding that trademark infringement and false representation could be proven trial.

Selection of Keywords

As you can see, selection of keywords is one of the most important factor for favourable search engine ranking. Hundreds of articles, books and journals have been published on this subject, so much so that some consider this as a new discipline. This page is too short to discuss all that. Nevertheless, we shall examine a few important features in next issue. lp you set out on the right course.

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol II, Issue 26' December 5' 2001

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at amit@infobanc.com )

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