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Declaring The Death of Metatags 322

Posted by timothy
from the few-bad-apples-spoiled-the-barrel dept.
theduck writes "Andrew Goodman of Traffick.com pleaded for someone to announce the end of metatags (at least with respect to trying to skeeve good search engine ranking). and Danny Sullivan, Editor of The SearchEngineReport obliged. Personally, I've resisted using them for years, but convincing clients that they're not worth the effort has always been difficult. Does anyone (except porn sites) actually use them anymore?"
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Declaring The Death of Metatags

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  • sure, i do. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IRNI (5906) <irni@PASCALirni.net minus language> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:36PM (#4369975) Homepage
    they have helped index my sites just the way i like them in relevant search engines.
  • by StuffYourReligion (452006) <slashdot.nomeaning@net> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:36PM (#4369981) Homepage
    Er, um, I use them for redirects/page refreshes
    • Use url rewriting [apache.org] for redirects, it saves on HTTP transactions.
    • In most cases, refresh seems to be used by sites to get more advertising hits. I find it obnoxious when I leave a page open and it reloads just so that it can show me a new ad. Sure, for news sites the headlines might change, but if I want to see the latest headlines, I have a reload button.

      Are there any legitimate uses of refresh?
      • Re:Refresh is evil (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        Are there any legitimate uses of [auto] refresh?

        Stock updates, auction standings, currency rate monitoring, remote alarms, ASCII football, slashdot karma ratings, etc.

    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:55PM (#4370128) Homepage
      Er, um, I use them for redirects/page refreshes

      Which is one of the things they are there for.

      META was never intended to be the primary key for search engines. The idea that search engines should believe a page with a billion Meta tags is pretty wierd.

      The purpose of Meta was to allow people to add their own search terms to a document for their own convenience. That use is not invalidated just because Google and Co can't find a way to use that information any more than the existence of spam does not invalidate the idea of email.

    • The article deals with knocking metas out of search engine criteria, not as removing them from web-browsers. Your refresh and redirect metas should still happily work (or not) as usual.
    • by FTL (112112) <slashdot@nOsPaM.neil.fraser.name> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:02PM (#4370173) Homepage
      > Er, um, I use them for redirects/page refreshes

      Read the article. It is only talking about keyword meta tags. There are lots of other types of meta tags. The Slashdot title is misleading.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:37PM (#4369988)
    I mean, you don't exactly get better rankings (as the article pointed out).

    sex dick pussy vagina cum cumbath ass fuck britney spears orgasm ...
    • sex dick pussy vagina cum cumbath ass fuck britney spears orgasm ...

      Word stuffing sometimes seems to backfire. Once I actually went to explicity search for "pussy", but got some stupid discount cat pet food spam-site instead. The search engine probably had to ignore most of them because there were too many (too many words, not pussies).
    • This is one of those cause effect things. What you say is true in most cases. But that's only because good search engines started doing their own cataloging and ignoring the meta tags. Prior to meta tags, I remember WebCrawler did a text search, so webmasters would add REM statements into their HTML and stuff words into there. Then came meta tags, and it was much easier to do, as the next generation of search engines utilized that feature. The current generation doesn't do that so often. Thus, meta tags do very little for rankings.

      The meta tags could be useful again, if there were some limitations. Say, perhaps, we were limited to 5 description tags, and as an industry standard, the remainder were ignored. Supposing a web search categorized your site based on these five tag descriptions...webmasters would have to get far more picky about what they stuff into their tags.

      • The meta tags could be useful again, if there were some limitations. Say, perhaps, we were limited to 5 description tags, and as an industry standard, the remainder were ignored

        Yes indeed. Or have some sort of logarithmic scale where the "power" of one of your tags decreases as the total number of description tags the document has increases. So if you searched for "sex", you'd get a document with just a "sex" tag ranked higher than one with "sex" and "beer" tags. I considered writing a test search engine like this, but then Google came along and hijacking searches became very difficult anyway.
    • by Dirtside (91468) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @07:37PM (#4370621) Journal
      sex dick pussy vagina cum cumbath ass fuck britney spears orgasm ...
      Such language! Where I come from we don't use words like "Britney Spears" in polite company, young man.
      • Such language! Where I come from we don't use words like "Britney Spears" in polite company, young man.

        Suddenly I'm reminded of south park the movie. cock, shit, fuck and cunt were just the warm ups, the only way Cartman saved the world and killed saddam hussein was with the ultimate of ultimate words

        "Barbara Streisand!"
  • Of course! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:38PM (#4369998)
    Well, I know the post was except for porn sites, but the reason that porn sites use 'em is because they work! Nobody knows search engines more than porn site owners. Part of what got me this listing [google.com] was good meta tags. Porn sites rule the web as far as traffic and profitability. When in doubt, do what to porn sites do.
    • Re:Of course! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gmack (197796) <gmack@NOsPAM.innerfire.net> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:47PM (#4370076) Homepage Journal
      Mentioning your site every chance you get on slashdot probably did more for your ranking than using a tag that google is known to ignore.
    • I don't even think google looks at meta tags when figuring it's page ranking. The reason is that most moron porn spammers just fill theirs up with the same crap (Including non-pornographic terms like "SUV" and stuff... wtf?) Searching for a random selection of your meta keywords dosn't bring up your site.
  • They're used... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by User 956 (568564)
    Meta tags are used a lot... there's widespread knowledge of so-called "google bombing".. Google pops up some of its search results based on the content between an A HREF tag, as you can read about here: Google Bomb [microcontentnews.com]...

    Much like security, I think this is the kind of thing that hackers and tinkerers will always find a way to exploit. The question is who can stay ahead in the race?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:39PM (#4370003)
    <meta name="violates_dmca" value="">
    <meta name="will_be_shutdown_by_the_riaa" value="">
    <meta name="contains_drm_technology" value="">
    <meta name="capable_of_withstanding_slashdot_effect" value="">
    <meta name="viewable_with_browser_other_than_IE" value="">
    <meta name="uses_extremely_irritating_blink_tag" value="">
    <meta name="requires_irritating_to_install_plugin" value="">
  • by los furtive (232491) <ChrisLamothe@gma i l .com> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:39PM (#4370004) Homepage
    Just because some people exploit them doesn't mean they aren't relevent. They are still an important ingredient of HTML soup.
  • Of course. (Score:2, Informative)

    by drhairston (611491)
    META Tags are still useful for their intended purpose. You must remember, Werners-Lee imagined a collaborative web of peers, not the segmented web of combatants we have attained. Therefore, META tags are still in use in the type of applications envisioned at CERN: Intranet search engines among academic peers. The death of META tags on the Internet is the natural consequence of the inability of some members of the Internet to behave maturely.
    • Re:Of course. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      you mean Berners-Lee.

      for others:
      http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/
  • by dbj (155830) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:43PM (#4370042)
    Within a corporation, having meta-tags can greatly enhance the ability to search internal documents.
  • Intranet sites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vtlidl (558929)
    I still use them on a handful of client intranet sites where I only want to search for the values of the metatags, not the content page.

    For example if have an intranet site with thousands of ducments about various hardware compements. All of the hardware has a part number and all documents pertaining to that hardware have the part number in the metatags.
  • by jlv (5619)
    From the article on SearchEngineReport
    The stress and time involved in trying to craft a tag was not worth it
    Stress and time to type <meta name="...">?
  • what about the w3c ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by stud9920 (236753) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:45PM (#4370061)
    Does anyone (except porn sites) actually use them anymore ?
    What about the w3c [w3.org] ? To be fully compliant, with no warning whatsoever, with html 4.01 transitional, I had to add this line to my pages :

    <META http-equiv="Content-Type" Content="text/html; charset=us-ascii">

    But I guess that slashcode is not the w3c 's best friend [w3.org]
  • Sometimes I get an urge to see every word in the English language and find oddballs. Luckily some sites include every single word in the language in their meta-tags. I simply go to view source and begin my adventure. :o
  • not all meta tags (Score:4, Informative)

    by self assembled struc (62483) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:48PM (#4370078) Homepage
    they're only talking about the KEYWORD one.

    the description tag is still used to display a blurb about your site in many search engines.

    and then there's the always-fun meta refresh tag.
  • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:48PM (#4370087) Homepage

    Special Offer: Are you targeting the right keywords?
    How do you know if people are searching on your keywords? Use WordTracker, and you'll get inside information on what people are really searching for. With this top secret information, you can optimize your site the right way the first time and see immediate results!


    This was the ad at the bottom of the page.. Ironic, no? Maybe even a little hypocritical? Sigh..
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:49PM (#4370090) Homepage Journal
    ... a reference to the awesome Meta Crap article [well.com] which highlights very clearly the problems with relying on <META> tags for useful information.
  • by Dr. Transparent (77005) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:51PM (#4370098) Homepage Journal
    The only thing I ever used meta tags for (at least since the advent of Google as the search engine of choice for the majority of Web users) was for redirects. But that only works if browsers support the redirect and if the user doesn't press stop or back, etc. Thus for redirecting users I use PHP's HTTP header redirect and equivalent in ASP.

    That said there is one meta tag that we all need:
    <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="true" />
  • When we were looking at new search engines for the campus internet here at the University there were times I wished that we were able to use meta tags to weigh results. Unfortunately the implementation would have been a nightmare we decided. They make sense on a small site possibly, less than 100,000 pages, where there are only a few departments designing and building websites, but to come up with and implement the proper meta tags for each department to use (and knowing that people still probably would not use them correctly) would have been a nightmare. (We have somewhere around 1.5 million pages at last estimate)

    Basically what I'm saying is Meta-tags are only useful if they have actual relevance, and really are only useful for companies that are trying to design their own intranet and sitelevel extranet search engines.
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:53PM (#4370115) Homepage Journal

    Metatags are still useful, just less so on the public internet. Like all information retrieved from the public internet, metatag keyword and description information must be considered suspect. It's useless for search engines that index arbitrary pages. So what good is metatag information? At the very least, local site searching. If you add a simple search engine to your web site, the keyword and description information is very likely to be valid (after all, it's your site). It's also useful for external sites that might index you specifically. For example, when Google [google.com] decides to index the University of Wisconsin at Madison web sites [google.com], the metadata information isn't perfect, but relatively trustworthy.

    I also wish that Google would show the page's metatag description in addition to the text in the displayed page. Sure, you need to also show the displayed page matches to help quickly identify liars, but Google could easily show the description as well. For many sites the description is an excellent summary useful for filtering out bad hits.

  • Hell yes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by legLess (127550) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @05:54PM (#4370127) Journal
    I use them all the time. They don't seem to help much with search engines, but then I don't use a list of 1,500 keywords, either. :)

    Some of them are pretty much mandatory, like <meta NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" CONTENT="true"> - I don't want M$ fucking up [slashdot.org] my pages (they don't help right now, but they don't hurt in the future, and I keep the meta tag in a template). I also usually rate sites with PICS [icra.org], so I use their tag.

    I also really enjoy when a site author or designer (hopefully with the client's full knowledge) credits him/herself with a meta tag. It's a nice, inconspicuous way to do it, 'specially if the client doesn't want to put a visible credit in the UI.

    So yeah, meta tags as search engine spam have been dead for a while, but they have many other uses.
  • Yes. [bellatlantic.net] Next question?
  • It seems a little cynical that at the end of the first article at Traffick.com there's an advertisement for 'Wordtracker', which supposedly will make you RICH if you just fork over a few bucks and let them show YOU how using the right keywords will make you RICH. Did I mention they'll make you RICH?
  • by nule.org (591224) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:01PM (#4370164) Homepage
    Everyone's favorite news site (after /. of course), The Onion [theonion.com] still uses the meta keyword tag. Of course, I don't know that a person searching for "God", "Christ" and "monkey" would exactly be expecting to land there.

    But then I don't know where exactly the would be expecting to land...

  • by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:06PM (#4370193) Homepage
    Too bad search engines are dropping them altogether. Keywords tag used to be an appropriate place to put misspellings, alternative and supplementary terms that should not appear as a visible text on the page.

    Without keywords tag, you are left with e.g. this solution [useit.com] (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Not pretty, but search-engine compliant, huh?

    Perhaps a better way would be to index these tags with low priority, as some search engines still do. This way, the keywords would only matter if there aren't many other pages with them (misspellings and rare terms), or in conjunction with visible text (variants and attributes). Well, a search engine can check misspelling of common words, but not rare terms and proper names. Both ways, the tags would be hard to abuse while useful in certain searches.

    The laziness is working against this (why bother with something which is not visible on the page?), but without meta tags the Web is becoming dummier, in a way. Hope the search engines will master technology to replace them, but it's not quite there yet!

    • Without keywords tag, you are left with e.g. this solution [useit.com] (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Not pretty, but search-engine compliant, huh?

      Sometimes people do something similar using white text or text the same color as the background.

      BTW, why did the "King of Usability" put a boat-load of white space at the bottom? That will just confuse people who scroll down. He comes off looking like a hypocrite.

      • Actually that can be useful -- provided that it is done properly!

        NewsWatcher, a MacOS Usenet reader did that. The idea was this: when you are reading text, and scroll down to the next screen of text, it's best if you know that you want to begin reading from the top of the screen. You do not have to hunt around for where you left off.

        However, if the window stops at the end of the text, the last screen of text will typically require you to look for where you left off reading somewhere in the middle.

        If the program can display a variable amount of blank space at the bottom of the screen so that the line you want to continue from is pinned to the top, then the problem is solved.

        (this is vaguely akin to how in books there will be white space left on a page if it isn't completely taken up by text)

        BBEdit _tried_ to do something similar, but fucked it up because they always put a fixed amount of white space in, and that turned out to just be annoying. The white space should be variable, and be resized constantly depending on how much is needed.
  • I have found that quite a few search
    engines take the description meta tag
    and list it next to the search results.
    dogpile for one does this
  • Synonyms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:10PM (#4370217) Homepage Journal
    IMO what metatags are good for is supplying synonyms that you don't want to have to put into your text.

    For example, a webpage might be about "OOP Criticism". However, searchers may not think to use the word "criticism", and instead look for "OOP complaints", "OOP skeptics", etc.

    "OOP criticism" and "OOP skepticism" are pretty closely related. But text indexing or link indexing probably would not be able to make the connection.

    Thus, they have legit uses IMO. Sure, they are abused, just like any other technology, including word indexing an link tracing.

    A search engine should use *multiple* approaches IMO. Better yet, allow one to select the weights of each one for a given search. Have drop-down boxes with numbers from 0 to 9 on which to select the weightings given to links, text, and metatags.
  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:14PM (#4370244) Homepage

    I guess if the only value you see to these tags is as a way to manipulate the search engine results, then yeah, maybe a case could be made to do away with them. But meta tags can be used for a whole lot more -- other people mentioned using them to refresh or redirect pages, but there are other goodies too. For example, I encourage my developers to drop this onto each page: "name='developer' content='Employee Name'" -- it's an ego stroke for developers to be able to show that off to their friends. Also, the copyright can be put into a meta tag. Why? Because it isn't visual, so all the clueless newbies who copy the site with a GUI tool will fail to remove that tag. We catch a few people that way, although only the most stupid.

    For a while, at Borland, I had a pretty low-end (but working) content-management system, where I put an expiration date into a meta tag along with an author name, and then had a Perl script that flagged any out of date file and emailed the author. This was brute-force Perl recursing through the htdocs folder and reading in each file, so it wasn't database-backed, but in 1995 my boss thought it was hot. Nowadays there are better ways to do most everything, and meta tags are not required for much, but they are still a very useful option, and allow for some creativity -- regardless of search engines.

  • by Christoph (17845) <chris@cgstock.com> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:16PM (#4370251) Homepage Journal
    Until something better comes along, meta name="keywords" content="blah" seems necessary for webpages with photographs as their primary content.

    I publish a photo gallery and have relied upon keywords to describe what's pictured but not necessarily mentioned in a photo's caption. This appears to work with Google from what I can tell. The same keywords are used by my site's internal search engine, so I have to think of and store them anyway. I would be happy to change if there's a better way.

  • by Xunker (6905)
    Better than metatags, IMO, is Googlebombing -- i.e. making a bunch of sites point to yours.

    I actually managed to pull off a wholey unplanned yet quite effective googlebomb in the last few months. A side project of mine, Quizilla [quizilla.com], has ome feature where it give you HTML coede to past into your weblog. Well, since Quizilla is a free service , I put an advetising string in that HTML, "brought to you by Quizilla", with a link to the site.

    Well, through some circumstances that got really popular really quick and people were pasting a lot og this HTML into their pages.. and what happened when Google indexed all those pages?

    Instant Googlebomb.

    I'm kinda sad I wasn't selling anything, or else I'd be rich.
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by crm114 (586020) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:19PM (#4370266)
    interestingly, the article html contains meta name="keywords" content="metatags are evil, metatags must die, death to the meta tags"
    • And he knew it wasn't the end, because it also contained the following:

      <meta name="description" content="If you can read this meta description tag, then the author's wish for the end of metatags has not yet come true. Someday, it will.">

      and some more "evil"?!? stuff:

      <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

      So much for consistency.

  • meta tags have little to do with ranking, and have had little to do for a long time.

    MUCH more important is to have links to your, say SEO company http://www.search-engine-optimization-services-com pany.com listed on a highly traveled page with many of the keywords that are relevant to your search engine company http://www.search-engine-optimization-services-com pany.com.

    if i was going to try for the ever important link relevancy and popularity rating for my search engine optmization and page ranking company http://www.search-engine-optimization-services-com pany.com I would pay attention to this fact, and take advantage of linking my own site http://www.search-engine-optimization-services-com pany.com when i could.
  • I think the main issue with "keyword" metatags is that they're completely unreliable for search engine use, since it's easy to abuse them by stuffing them with terms that users search for that aren't necessarily related to the content of your page. Fine, I think that's obvious. Nobody's really going to argue that one.

    The "description" metatag is still EXTREMELY useful, though. Even if a search engine doesn't use the metatags for ranking purposes, it can still use the "description" metatag to display a nice human-readable summary of the page. Often search engines just display the first N characters of text on the page and use that for a summary, which usually is not a good or readable summary for the site.

    The problem with Google is that it seems to randomly use the "Description" metatag sometimes, but not others. Here's an example [google.com]. Notice how the second "Anime Expo 2002 at Bootyproject" link has a nice readable summary under it, but the first one doesn't. (It may have changed between the time I posted it and the time you view it, who knows) Which makes no sense to me, because if you look at the source for each of the two pages, the metatag information is identical for both pages. I don't get it, I dunno if Google's just a little broken in that respect, or if I screwed something up. Sorry to pimp my own site there... it's just an example I'm obviously quite familiar with. :P

    But anyway, when search engines and authors use the description metatag properly (ie, the search engine doesn't use it for ranking, and the author takes the time to write a nice summary), it's pretty nice.
  • by rppp01 (236599)
    I know who still uses meta-tags!
    www.se.....oh wait, you said besides pr0n sites....

    well, never mind, then.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:32PM (#4370342) Homepage Journal
    however, thay should be limited to 25 characters. This way they would need to be relevent and precise to get proper ranking.
  • "Does anyone (except porn sites) actually use them anymore?"

    Yep. It's a company called Microsoft, and an HTML *cough* editor *cough* known as FrontPage. They stuff plenty of pointless meta tags in there for you.

  • by Alethes (533985) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @06:37PM (#4370377)
    "Declaring the death of" any technology is ridiculously shortsighted. Just because meta tags aren't doing what you hoped they would, doesn't mean they don't have a useful purpose as a lot of the posts on this thread point out. This is slightly analogous to declaring the death of the horse because they're no longer the first choice for transportation.
  • A Better Way? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by adius (613006)
    Is there a better way than using meta tags for indexing your site? What if your pages are mostly composed of graphics? Adius [adiusystems.com]
  • It does no just have to be search. You can use properly organized metadata to do thigs like associating related content together. This can be done more reliably with author specified metadata.
    This summer I wrote a perl module called FileMetadata (available from CPAN) that collects metadata from files. I have used it to ease content management headaches on my website. Each HTML (XHTML) file has metadata that is used to advertise it on my site's index pages. I have ideas for more nifty things that can be done with metadata but as always time is finite.
  • A Client Story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @07:03PM (#4370500) Homepage
    We had a client recently tell us that a previous web hosting company told him that his site was being submitted to "millions of search engines every day." My boss and I nearly gave ourselves both aneuryisms trying not to laugh when he uttered that one. Mostly because he clearly accepted it at face value.

    You can imagine how hard it was to convine him that meta-tags were not all that relevant anymore. This was mere months ago, mind you.
  • meta tags GOOD (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Fweeky (41046)
    Author, generator, description (very important when your content doesn't look too hot in a search engine summary; hello ALA [alistapart.com] and your dumbass "this site will look much better in.." blurb), content type and the way too often overlooked text encoding, and things like DCMI [dublincore.org].

    They're also useful for keeping your documents in a form you can process later; you can, for instance, embed creation dates, CVS revisions, shorter/alternate titles and summaries for links.

    <slaps timothy for spreading FUD against a perfectly useful HTML tag>

    EAT FLAMING DEATH TIMMY!
  • <meta refresh=...>

    Actualy, I generaly use HTTP redirects to move pages, but meta refresh can be usefull for people who don't have access to the software.
  • There's a definite legitimate use of metatags for web pages: ADA compliance.

    For those with limited vision (or blindness), screen readers can (and usually do) use metatags to aid in navigation and content descriptions.

    For anyone who's interested, check out the W3C site on Web Accessibility Guidelines at:

    W3C Web Accessbility Guidelines [w3.org]

  • <html>
    <head>
    <title>An End to Metatags (Enough Already, Part 1) - Traffick.com</title>
    <meta name="keywords" content="metatags are evil, metatags must die, death to the meta tags">
    <meta name="description" content="If you can read this meta description tag, then the author's wish for the end of metatags has not yet come true. Someday, it will.">
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles2.css" type="text/css">
    </head>
  • I was glad about a year ago when Slashdot added the LINK tag [w3.org] to help with navigation.

    For web authors out there - imagine an easy place to define where your home page is, and some basic navigation links, including a copyright page and an author link.

    For browsers that support it, iCab on the Mac being one, it is a nice addition to a site when I find them.
  • What amazing timing... the meta keyword tag is declared dead on the same day I (finally) got around to setting up a search engine for my website.

    Starting this morning I began reading the docs and installing the ht://Dig [htdig.org] search engine. There are a lot of configurable settings.

    When I first got it working, I immediately realized that the 350-some static html files on my site really only have a couple dozen different sets of meta tags (due to starting new pages by copying existing ones). In fact, many of my pages don't even have really unique title that differentiate them from other similar pages on the site. If you're interested in seeing it, it's not yet linked from the rest of the site, but will be soon, at this new search page [pjrc.com]. The results still suck, mostly due to my poor meta and title tags.

    That's not ht://Dig's fault, of course, and they do have you options to configure the weight for various things... and luckily I've used <h2&gtl and <h3> tags for labeling sections on almost all the pages, so I turned up the weighting for the text in those and in the link text on the site.

    Still I have a lot of work to do to make my little site nicely searchable... and most of it is in the titles and meta tags. The keyword meta tags are the one place where you can list words that you can be certain a local search engine like ht://Dig will make use of them and display those pages.

    Too bad the meta keyword tag was declared dead today.

  • What if the results were weighted against the number of elements in the meta tag. Putting the english dictionary into your meta tags will just put you on the bottom, right? The rewards for being verbose only exist in your English teacher's class.
  • It's rather silly to proclaim the death of meta tags just because they can be manipulated. The content of web pages are also being manipulated to obtain a better rating in search enginges. Should we stop using content as well? Blank web pages everywhere, because that is the only way to be sure that they actually contain what search engines promise us?

    It would probably be far more useful to begin black listing sites who try to divert traffic their ways by means of "lies". Something along the line the anti-spam lists that are in use for email.
  • I looked past it the story three times on the front page because I was looking at earlier stories, etc. and I swear each of those 3 times I saw the story title as "Declaring The Death of Maytags".

    Don't you people see the commercials? Those repairmen don't have anything to do at all, how can you declare the death of something that never breaks?!

  • ...in the "Pascal's Wager" sense of the word. When I make a webpage, I figure that, since it's so easy just to stick a few words in there, I might as well. It's not like it's costing me anything but a few moments of time, and if it is useful for something, so much the better.
  • First of all, just because "keywords" tags can be fraudulently specified, doesn't mean that they are useless. I can publish pr0n in a book titled "Undergraduate Physics"; does that make book titles useless? The fault is not in the "keywords" tag; the fault is in naively trusting unverified data. It's okay to put lollipops from the store in your mouth, but it's not okay to do the same with lollipops that you pick out of the gutter.

    OK, my turn now. I wish somebody would call a moratorium on printing an entire webpage in a teensy weensy font. I have carefully specified my default font size, because that is the size which is most appropriate for reading long pages of text on my monitor with my eyes. It's okay to make stuff smaller if it's supposed to be "the fine print", but for whole articles, please use the default font size.

  • On meta tags... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThePeeWeeMan (77957) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @11:28PM (#4371507) Journal
    In contrast to nearly about everyone else on /., I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I appreciate good meta tags.

    If I'm on a slow link, I get to see a brief description of the page and then decide if I want to go to it. And if I'm on a slow link I disable flash, scripting, etc. and set cache to a small amount.

    It also helps that I use a different browser for slow links. =) (Nope, not IE, Mozilla or Opera.)
  • Yes, I do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Tuesday October 01, 2002 @11:49PM (#4371567) Homepage Journal
    I put spamtrap addresses in META TAGs, links to wpoison pages, etc... Lots of fun.
  • by lemkebeth (568887) on Wednesday October 02, 2002 @12:53AM (#4371811)
    The following is required in HTML 4.01:

    <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

    Then there is useful stuff:

    <meta name="author" content="Elizabeth Lemke">
    <meta name="author-email" content="nowhere@nowhere.net">

    It is also useful for redirects and header information to the browser.

    FWIW, I also use <link> tags in the <head> of HTML files for referring to important parts of the site and my e-mail.
  • by Kieckerjan (38971) on Wednesday October 02, 2002 @04:49AM (#4372323)
    If the HTML-standard had imposed a limit on the number of meta-keywords a webmaster may enter for her page (say 10 max), webmasters would have been forced to think about which words they were including. It's the perceived lack of scarcity of resources that prevents a healthy "keyword-economy" from developing.

    In my opininion it would still be possible to turn this thing around. If a couple of big search engines plastered an announcement all over their sites: "We only look at the first ten uniqe meta-keywords", things might change for the better.

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