Charles Peyton Taylor (
Wed, 08 May 1996 14:52:04 -0800

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 08 May 1996 14:52:04 -0800
From: Charles Peyton Taylor <>
Subject:  META

Hey, look: a Message that *isn't* about Wilbur :)

Recently I installed a search engine and told people
they could put keywords in their documents using the
<meta> tag.  They told me they needed documentation
for this.  So I began to write up documentation for 
<meta> and <link> as well.

I did some research to make sure my doc's were correct.
After reading the specs, documentation for Harvest, 
and guidelines at Alta Vista's web site, I discovered
that instead of HTTP-equiv, the search engines were 
using NAME to designate keywords.  

I'm not sure what to write in the documentation now.
I'm thinking about dropping any mention of "http-equiv"
in favor of "name", but I want to jive with the specs.

Are any http servers reading (and presumeably, displaying 
in HEAD requests) the HTTP-equiv sections of HTML files?

This is what I've written so far:

The meta element identifies a web page's 
"meta-information." Meta-information is information 
about information, for example, who wrote the information, 
when it expires, how it should be indexed, etc.  Meta 
elements have attributes that come in indentifier/value 
pairs. The indentifier is a "name" and/or an "HTTP-equiv" 
attribute; the value is given using the "contents" attribute.
According to the specs, servers may also display http-equiv 
values as part of the HTTP 1.0 header. (HTTP is the network
protocol used on the web.)

For example, the most common use of the meta attribute is
specifying keywords by which the document may be indexed 
using the "keywords" identifier. For example:

<META http-equiv="keywords"  CONTENT="orange, soccer, spam">

Having this in the <head> of your document allows search 
engines to index your document using the keywords "orange,"
"soccer," and "spam."  If someone uses those words as 
search terms, then they should get linked to your document.

Unfortunately, most servers in use today do not display 
http-equiv attributes in the head.  So although the spec 
shows "http-equiv" as being the attribute used to identify 
the meta element as "keywords", many search engines use the 
"name" attribute instead.  Example:

<META name="keywords" content="orange, soccer, spam" >

HTML authors can enter other information in this way:

<META name="author" content="Mark Twain" >

Other values for http-equiv include "expires" and "reply-to".