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Heads Up on Heads
What we do in our head tags
brotherhood of LAN

 4:04 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Are we out of our heads? ;) Todays web offers the webmaster/author many opportunities to take advantage of the head section in there web pages. What I would like to know from the generous pool of knowledge in webmasterworld is how each of us use our heads and what we include. I will try to keep it brief so that additions can be added

Obviously we want to use title tags. So this is definitely in.

1. Keywords up front
2. Look at Brett's Theme Pyramid for choice of words used in title

To my knowledge, this is still relatively important, and is used in many places as the SERP description

The meta description is primarily for human consumption, so avoid stuffing it with keywords...Keep it short and descriptive, and E Y E catching

Got spammed to death when they were used more prominently in the past, and do not really matter too much anymore

1. Theres a new thread floating around on this subject, enough said there ;)


Bit of a grey area here, dunno how many of these can be used. Im talking about these

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">

I understand the first one is wisely used for cross browser compatibility, and the second one for some region sensitive search engines. Perhaps I could use en-us and en-uk for possible US/UK english spelling differences, you know, people searching for UK spellings of a word may find more sites with en-uk, Im not sure. I would be glad to hear someone expand upon this.


OK im heading into a dark area for me now, because Ive played with javascript, but tend to avoid it. Some javascript goes in the head tag

So what other things are the head used for? What HAS to be in the head? What can be in the head but probably isnt worth the space?

Im sure you get the idea behind this thread.....would be great to here more about the power of the head.

Remember WMW'ers two heads are better than one ;)



 4:25 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Bring in external JavaScript with:
<script language="JavaScript" src="scripts.js"></script>

...and bring in CSS with
<link rel=stylesheet href="styles.css">


 4:28 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)


<script type="text/javascript" language="JavaScript" src="file.js"></script>

validate a bit better?

Lets not forget doctype.


 4:33 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

You're right, and I know better. What I posted is the old way, and what you posted is both the old and new - works for everyone.


 4:40 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">

If you want 100% W3C validation, the above meta is mandatory.

Here are the first lines of text on most of my sites...

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">


<meta name="description" content="">
<meta name="keywords" content="">
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<link href="styles.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet">
<script language="javascript" src="index.js" type="text/javascript"></script>


 4:44 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I use this one :

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
And do validate exept for Alt tags and margins...


 4:48 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Either one of the two are fine. I believe the windows-1252 is just a later version, I think?

Here is the code page for 1252 from MS...

These are the four that are recognized as Western European...

iso-8859-1 / latin1

Supported Character Sets [w3.org]

Microsoft's Character Set Recognition [msdn.microsoft.com]


 5:28 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I haven't used keyword tags in over a year. They are completely worthless, waste my time and bandwidth. The description doesn't seem to effect ranking much, so just put a couple keywords in there(anywhere) and concentrate on copy. As for all the extra meta tags, I would recommend keeping it to the minimum needed for validation. After all, many are completely ignored by browsers, and the important search engines only concern themselves with content they feel is visble. Like the keywords tag, if it has no positive effects, it does have the negative of consuming your time and bandwidth.


 5:53 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I still spend an extra kilobyte a day for Altavista. :)


 5:59 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

One thing you can get rid of is that

<META NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Frontpage, Dreamweaver, whatever">

tag. Total advertising for whatever you generated your site with. Wasted bandwidth. Not used by or for anything, except a spider from the manufacturer to determine market penetration.


 6:03 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Alta Vista and Inktomi still spider the keywords and use them as part of their ranking algorithm. They may not give the boost they used to, but they are still an important element in the overall optimization strategy.

Just keep the tag short and sweet, to the point, no fluff, and specific to the on page content. Maybe 10-15 words at the most.

Pssst... It also appeases those clients who absolutely have to see a keywords tag when they view source. I have a couple clients that just don't want to accept the fact that the tag does not have the importance that it once used to!

brotherhood of LAN

 6:32 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yep, I link all CSS and javascript externally, just started doing it.

Keywords, 10/20 keywords is not a waste of space, a few thousand pages of keywords can be sent at the cost of a cent ;) I vote they stay IMO :) until im told otherwise

For clients, shoving keywords in like pageoneresults says, is a bonus :)

What about other meta tags, is the author one worth using?

I dont know the full scale of things available to be put into the head tag and their worth, maybe its worth listing all of them and their relative use, which is sorta what we are doing now :)


 6:39 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Do you think this might be a little too much? ;)

<META NAME="author" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="classification" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="copyright" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="distribution" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="doc-class" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="doc-rights" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="doc-type" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="language" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" CONTENT="TRUE">
<META NAME="owner" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="publisher" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="rating" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="">
<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="">

I don't see this many too frequently, but when I do, I think, whoa, why so many tags and what purpose are they serving? There has to be a reason? Just isn't part of my reasoning!


 6:42 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hey! you forgot the Dublin Core collection! What a shame! :)

I hope all meta tag companies to vanish soon. They still take away some good business. :-(


 6:48 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

<META NAME="revisit-after" CONTENT="">

I don't know if this is the right story, but from what i know this tag was invented by a man in Canada who had a small regional search engine, he wanted the sites in his area to be able to put this tag on there sites so he knew when his spider should crawl there sites, then someone looked at the source on one of those pages, and from there it has gone, from what i know; No big search engine have ever used this tag :)

brotherhood of LAN

 7:21 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yep, revisit one seems laughable in todays environment

apart from people being nosy at source code, do any of the others have a practical effective use?

Russ Dollinger

 7:28 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I made the mistake of allowing my keywords to become somewhat exaggerated.
For example, I have a page about a medical language phrase book that might be considered a dictionary. I included the word dictionary as a keyword although it was not specifically in the text on the page.
I watched my rankings on some engines go from 2nd to ???
Now I am going back and rewriting the text, because those words are important search terms.


 7:39 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

<meta name="robots" content=""> can be helpful as a reinforcer of robots.txt when you use "NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW".

I believe Inktomi used to default to "INDEX, NOFOLLOW" at one time, and placing "INDEX,FOLLOW" was helpful in getting a deeper crawl. I doubt that this is still true.

Also don't forget keeping pages out of the Google cache with:

I use this on time sensitive information pages, such as sale prices!

brotherhood of LAN

 7:43 pm on Mar 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks tedster, that no archive one is a gem


 4:34 am on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've used

<meta name="robots" content="index,follow,noarchive">

successfully to keep google from caching. Others SEs ignore it. However, if another SE starts using a google-type cache, they might honor it too, whereas they would not honor the google-specific tag.

I believe I got that tag off of one of google's early help pages - it might even still be in there.

Does anyone else put "Favicon" or http-equiv tags in their head sections?


 5:45 am on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Brotherhood of LAN, you also mentioned "heading into the dark" on Javascript with regard to what part of it needed to go into the head section.

Basically, you only need to put JS elements such as variable declarations and function definitions in the head section if they will be needed by - or will be needed to control - other script sections on your page. You put them there because the head section is always loaded before any body-resident script is loaded or executed.

Because of the (seemingly-random) way that browsers load page elements, and especially because of the way they may load scripts from external files in out-of-page-reference-order, this method prevents "timing problems" - say where a script might start running before a variable (which is supposed to be defined by another assumed-to-be-previously-loaded script section) that it needs is actually defined, and crash because the "defining" script has not actually finished loading.

This is discussed (lightly) in Netscape's
JavaScript Guide or their JS Reference at [developer.netscape.com...]
(worth a bookmark)

HTH... Jim


 10:19 am on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't know if this is the right story, but from what i know this tag was invented by a man in Canada who had a small regional search engine

That would be SearchBC [vancouver-webpages.com]. And here is the form that generated SearchBC's excessive METAs [vancouver-webpages.com].

NetInsert.com doesn't look so bad now, does it guys?


 4:23 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

To switch some browsers to render code the way God intended, you have to have the _full_ doctype declaration right at the top. For HTML 4.01 transitional it would be:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

Also, include CSS for _all_ browsers thus:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="my_css_stylesheet.css" type="text/css">

And for CSS you don't want Netscape 4.x to see, use:

<link rel="stylesheet" media="all" href="not_for_netscape.css" type="text/css">

Also, if you want to comply with P3P, you have to have:

<link rel="P3Pv1" href="/w3c/p3p.xml">

,plus (for P3P), a bunch of other external stuff I can't remember ATM :)


 4:42 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

All true, but the DTD isn't strictly speaking part of the head. It precedes even the <html> tag!


 5:22 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the general theme here is that certain core elements are either essential or still quite useful in one form or another.

But the lesson is to use the head-space efficiently. (lol! I'm going to avoid the sarcasm and double entendres, at least for now!)

I like pageoneresults' example of overkill! I recently visited an auto dealer's website that must've had every possible meta tag stuffed into the head content. It was bizarre, and ridiculous! If the webmaster spent as much time learning about SEO and proper USE of meta tags as he or she did in finding all of these exotic beauties, he would've been ahead of the game.

We pretty much know which search engines no longer give heed to keyword meta tags, but I think it is still a good idea to include them. Who knows what "key-word-hungry" spider may be lurking nearby?


 5:24 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

tedster -- true, but I coudn't resist the chance to pull this thread off topic! (joke) :D

Although it isn't included in the <head> tags, I do think of the doctype as part of the *head* of a HTML document, and quite important, as well. I suppose then that a HTMP document is made up of _3_ parts, doctype, head, body?


 6:39 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">

If you want 100% W3C validation, the above meta is mandatory.

No it's not.

I never use this and 99.9% of my pages validate.

It's more important to specify doctypes and stuff before the head for proper validation like this...

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-1859-1" ?>
"-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">


 6:50 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

nwilson, I'm not going to dispute your explanation. But, when validating pages that are lacking the meta to specify character encoding, the W3C returns this...

Warning: No Character Encoding detected! To assure correct validation, processing, and display, it is important that the character encoding is properly labeled. Further explanations.

Its not an error, just a warning. And note, I specifically stated 100% validation which to me means no errors.

Are there now two ways to specify character encoding?


 7:01 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

To switch some browsers to render code the way God intended, you have to have the _full_ doctype declaration right at the top. For HTML 4.01 transitional it would be:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

Using the full DTD has been known to cause problems with certain design techniques, mostly CSS and absolute positioning. The preferred DTD in that instance is the shortened version which eliminates the problems.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

Brett turned me on to that tip after I was having some spacing problems at the top of my pages. Come to find out it was the full DTD that was causing it!


 7:47 pm on Mar 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

the doctype that use mention is one that will trigger "quirk mode" rendering; using the full doctype triggers "standards mode."

Quirk mode will render css improperly in some cases, most noticeable is the "box model" issue, which may cause unsatisfactory results for positioned elements.

Ironically, by inducing "quirk mode" rendering, your css/elements are being improperly displayed (according to standards) but the result is consistant accross most browsers, thus giving the desired results.

Here is a chart that lists the various doctypes and rendering status:

Here is the article:

Both are good resources and can help explain rendering problems.

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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