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After reading this question about meta keywords, I've been wondering : of all meta tags, which ones are really worth the effort ?

I know that the description is used in google search results, and the content type and encoding are used by the browser, but what are the other tags that we should always include in our pages ?

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I don't think this is a real question. –  delete Jul 10 '10 at 1:01
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@kin, why not? Sounds legit to me –  Mark Henderson Jul 11 '10 at 7:22
    
It's not a logical question. You can put in any meta tags you want; the question would make more sense if it was "which meta tags have some effect". –  delete Jul 11 '10 at 13:04
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@Kino, the only way someone would learn that is by asking this sort of a question. That's like a blind person asking "What colour is the sky" and nobody answering them becuase "It's not a logical question". –  Mark Henderson Jul 11 '10 at 21:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Meta tags are used for many different purposes (such as Dublin Core, ICBM, Open Graph Protocol, Powder) and generally have some specific uses that are important to some sites.

For SEO purposes and usability, you don't really need any metadata other than title, content-type, and description in your head section.

As general advice, only implement a meta tag if you have a specific reason for doing so. Want a Facebook Like button? Great, implement the Open Graph meta tags! Don't like how Google caches your pages? Add a Googlebot noarchive tag.

If you go ahead and implement tags without a clear understanding of why you are doing so, you are increasing the size (and decreasing the performance) of your page without benefit, and increasing the risk of getting caught flat-footed if the tag causes an unexpected side-effect.

There are many sites out there that list meta tag recommendations (here's one example) but these are generally not comprehensive and become less and less valuable over time as the web changes.

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I was refering mainly to SEO, but I was also wondering if tags like author, rating, etc. are of any use at all ? –  Wookai Jul 10 '10 at 14:32
    
Content creation meta tags can be a useful way of giving credit without placing links on the page. –  JasonBirch Jul 11 '10 at 4:42

Include any metatags you feel you need. They don't affect the rendering of the page at all, unless you have a ridiculous amount of data in them. They cannot harm you unless you are intentionally using them to be harmful, such as keyword spamming.

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This is wrong, for example the "content-type" meta tag tells what encoding the page is in, and if it is incorrect then non-ASCII characters may be rendered incorrectly. –  delete Jul 10 '10 at 1:00
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@kinopiko well, duh. i didn't say "incorrectly use meta tags"... i thought it was implied that you should be using them correctly. you can use whichever ones you want, just don't be dumb and use them wrong. you can mess up your page also if you don't close a div tag too. :P –  Jason Jul 10 '10 at 2:47
    
if you do not use them at all, it could make browsers automatically pick the wrong encoding... –  Gaby Jul 10 '10 at 10:56

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