The Meta Element

As we explained in the previous chapter, the head element contains general information (meta-information) about a document.

HTML also includes a meta element that goes inside the head element. The purpose of the meta element is to provide meta-information about the document.

Most often the meta element is used to provide information that is relevant to browsers or search engines like describing the content of your document.

Note: W3C states that “Some user agents support the use of META to refresh the current page after a specified number of seconds, with the option of replacing it by a different URI. Authors should not use this technique to forward users to different pages, as this makes the page inaccessible to some users. Instead, automatic page forwarding should be done using server-side redirects” at

Keywords for Search Engines

Some search engines on the WWW will use the name and content attributes of the meta tag to index your pages.

This meta element defines a description of your page: <meta name=”description” content=”Free Web tutorials on HTML, CSS, XML, and XHTML”>
This meta element defines keywords for your page:<meta name=”keywords” content=”HTML, DHTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, JavaScript, VBScript”>

The intention of the name and content attributes is to describe the content of a page.

However, since too many webmasters have used meta tags for spamming, like repeating keywords to give pages a higher ranking, some search engines have stopped using them entirely.

Unknown Meta Attributes

Sometimes you will see meta attributes that are unknown to you like this:

<meta name=”security” content=”low”>

Then you just have to accept that this is something unique to the site or to the author of the site, and that it has probably no relevance to you.

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