It isn’t mentioned much in most Web design and development books. The vast majority of people will give you that deer in the headlights look when you bring the subject up. Without it, you have a snowball’s chance in the south of succeeding in the world of electronic commerce. What is it? Allow me to introduce one of the newest members of the meta data family. Metatags are not exactly new, but they really came to the forefront in the early 2000s. One of the issues people have been struggling with is the ease and success of the Internet. There is simply too much information with only a limited ability to find what information you are looking for. A simple search for "meta data" delivers 2,380,000 hits. I think my site is in that list, probably number 2,125,361. The bright side of this is that you will only have to hit the "next" button 212,536 times to get to me. Undoubtedly, most of these hits won’t provide you with even the basic understanding around the concepts of meta data. The metatag is not only part of the problem but also part of the solution.

There are two basic types of metatags. The first is the "HTTP-EQUIV" tag that is used as a directive to the browser. The directive might include "en-us" to define the language as English and the United States. Metatags with an "HTTP-EQUIV" attribute are equivalent to HTTP headers. Typically, they control the action of browsers and may be used to refine the information provided by the actual headers. Tags using this form should have an equivalent effect when specified as an HTTP header and in some servers may be translated to actual HTTP headers automatically or by a preprocessing tool. An example "HTTP-EQUIV" might look like the following code that tells the browser to refresh the HTML code from the server every five seconds.

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