Meta Tags: Still Useful? - Decline in Usefulness
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The keyword tag has experienced the steepest decline in usefulness of any meta tag. It has gone from being an absolutely vital tag to being of questionable worth at best. There has been no proof that any search engine uses the keyword tag for ranking, despite the fact that Yahoo claims that it plays a part. All the same, it is still a good practice for developers to include keywords, since it only takes a moment.
The abstract meta tag allows you to specify a short abstract (or description) of the web page. The description should be about a sentence or so. Theoretically, this was once used by some search engines to allow an even shorter description than the description meta tag to be displayed. However, the description meta tag has taken precedence, and the abstract tag is mostly worthless now.
The distribution meta tag was designed for developers to specify pages on their website that they did not want made public. However, other methods such as a robot.txt file and a “noindex” tag became more common. The distribution tag is no longer useful, and the other methods just described do the job now.
The expires and revisit meta tags are both intended to let a search engine know how long it should take before coming back to your website. The expires tag tells a search engine how long it can cache a page before it should re-load it. This is not very practical any more since the search engines have way more resources than they need to download web pages with frequency.
The revisit tag tells search engines how often they should come back to check for changes. For the vast majority of websites, their content changes either frequently or irregularly. Very few websites change on a set schedule more than a day or two apart.
The robots meta tag tells a search engine how it should treat a web page. It is still useful and used by search engines, but it is being replaced by the robots.txt file. Since the two offer the same functionality and the robots.txt method is becoming more popular, it would be a pretty good idea for most developers to just make use of the file method.
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